Cancer Research at Owethu

Cancer Research at Owethu

Is our urban lifestyle dangerous?

Owethu, an initiative backed by Cipla is about to embark on a huge research project. The research at Owethu will be looking at cancer risk during urbanisation. The study will focus on determining how widespread metabolic syndrome and the risk of developing cancer are in the Western Province.

Why do the study?

Various facts and medical theories are behind the study. To begin with, 230 million people around the world are affected by metabolic diseases, with a number of factors playing roles in the development of metabolic-related cancers. Genetics and environment are two of them. Added to that, metabolic syndrome and, especially, Type 2 diabetes are becoming increasingly widespread in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Theories as to why this is happening include increased and uncontrolled urbanisation, and the lifestyle changes that accompany it. Metabolic risk factors also presented a lot earlier than expected in a younger student population at Stellenbosch University. Lastly, data suggests that diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer will be more widespread in developing nations within the next 10 to 20 years.

Who can take part?

  • Men and women who are of South African descent.
  • Live in the Western Cape Province.
  • Apparently healthy.
  • Between 20 and 60 years old.
  • Anyone who is outside the age range, has been diagnosed with diabetes and treated for a chronic disease, or does not permanently live in the Western Cape Province will be excluded.

After identification, applicants will be invited for a baseline assessment. If eligible, they’ll be asked to enter the cohort study, after which they will be followed-upon over regular intervals.

What data is being gathered?

Owethu will be gathering demographic data as well as looking at physical (anthropometric) measurements, such as waist and hip circumferences, skin folds, height and weight. They’ll do body fat analysis, check bone density, and measure heart rate and blood pressure. Added to that, they’ll check nutritional status, and do blood chemistry analysis for serum glucose, insulin, lipogram, HbA1c, adiponectin, leptin and VEGF.

Information about the participant’s engagement in physical activities will also be gathered.

What’s expected of the participants?

The entire visit will take no more than 30 minutes. While there, participants will be asked to lift up their shirts for different measurements that will give information about their bodies. Researchers will place electrodes connected to stickers on their hands, feet, stomach and backs so that they can  gather information about their body fat.

They will also place their feet in a machine to learn about the strength of their bones. Additionally, they’ll draw four teaspoons-worth of blood, and ask questions about what they eat and how much they exercise. Participants can stop at any time if they feel uncomfortable or don’t want to continue.


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