Cancer Research Day Highlights Alarming Cancer Rate in Appalachian Kentucky

Reported by: Aaron Adelson
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Updated: 4/15/2013 6:27 pm
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AAdelsonABC36

Cancer affects so many lives, it's hard to find somebody the disease has not impacted.

Hope Johnson is like many of us.  Her Great Aunt died from breast cancer.

"People can get cancer very very young, and not be here very quickly," said Johnson.

At the Markey Cancer Center, UK scientists study cancer so we have fewer stories like Hope Johnson's.

UK Scientists say the lung cancer rate in Appalachian Kentucky is 4X higher than the national average, but the smoking rate is comparable to other parts of rural Kentucky.  So, they want to figure out why the cancer rate is so much higher. 

"We have hypotheses that certain other environmental exposures are combining with smoke exposure to increase cancer incidents, and we think that metals in the environment may play a role," said Associate Professor David Orren.

If correct, Orren says it could be easy to reduce the cancer rate in Appalachian Kentucky.

"You find out where that exposure is coming from, and then you can try to intervene.  It could be something as simple as if it's in the water, you give water purification," said Orren.

With a family history of cancer, Johnson worries for her future.

"The main thing is to keep my mind healthy and happy, in order to keep my body happy and healthy," said Johnson.

The University hopes to play a part in making cancer less deadly, and to one day find a cure.
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