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Health study expanding to include Sarnia-area residents

Published on

Cathy Dobson

A province-wide health study is recruiting Sarnia-Lambton participants to help answer critical questions, like how healthy we are and what makes us ill.

It’s the first time Sarnia has been specifically targeted since the study began in 2010, says spokesperson Jocelyn Garrett.

At least 45 local residents have signed up already but researchers are hoping for at least 200.

The study, which is funded through Cancer Care Ontario, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and the federal government, has attracted 230,000 participants in six years.

Now, a new initiative involving mobile units travelling to more rural areas like Sarnia is drawing even more people, said Garrett.

Prior to 2014, all registrants were required to go to Toronto to provide a blood sample. The Toronto assessment office has been closed in favour of mobile units that have already been to 50 communities.

Local participants must be between 30 and 74 years old and need to register online at www.ontariohealthstudy.ca/Lambton. They’ll provide personal background and family health history by filling out a questionnaire that takes about an hour.

“Once you register, you become a number,” said Garrett. “There is complete confidentiality.”

Participants also sign up for an appointment at the Lambton Health Unit to provide a blood sample when the mobile research unit is in town from Feb. 29 to March 3.

Those who provide blood can expect an email within 10 days with a comprehensive blood analysis, reflecting where their personal health falls within a reference range, said Garrett.

The study will be ongoing for many years to come and participants will be asked to answer additional questionnaires, including one coming in April with a focus on lifestyle and environment.

Anyone who can’t attend when the mobile unit in Sarnia can still sign up online and make an appointment to provide a blood sample at the local LifeLabs location on Exmouth Street.

The Ontario Health Study is on par with previous studies that established critical information such as the connection between cigarette smoking and cancer, said Garrett.

Researchers can apply for access to the study’s portal and use the data for their own work. Results for each community will ultimately be released to medical officers of health across Ontario, although no timeframe on that is available, Garrett said.

“Lambton Public Health is very supportive of the Ontario Health Study and we are excited to host a study site here in our community,” said Dr. Sudit Ranade, Lambton’s medical officer of health.

“We encourage Lambton residents to participate in contributing to our understanding of the biological and environmental risk factors for chronic disease.”

Appointments at the study centre at the Lambton Health Unit, 160 Exmouth St., can be made online for:

* Monday, February 29: Noon-9 p.m;

* Tuesday, March 1: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.;

* Wednesday, March 2: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.;

* Thursday, March 3: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

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