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Team at UCI Gets Grant for Cancer Study : Research: $1.1-million award will fund effort to find clues to colorectal form of disease.

August 25, 1994|JULIE MARQUIS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

IRVINE — UC Irvine researchers have received a $1.1-million, five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute to study the causes of colorectal cancer, the second most common and deadly form of cancer.

The award, announced Wednesday by UCI officials, went to a team headed by Dr. Hoda Anton-Culver, an environmental toxicologist who studies how genetics, environment and cancer are related.

The grant comes on the heels of a $2.3-million award from NCI in February to Anton-Culver's group for a four-year study of ovarian and breast cancers, which kill thousands of women each year.

Together, the projects are intended to provide a telling picture of what lies behind some of the most common and most deadly cancers in the country, and, researchers hope, some clues on how to prevent them.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday August 26, 1994 Orange County Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Column 5 Metro Desk 1 inches; 31 words Type of Material: Correction
Cancer research--Dr. Hoda Anton-Culver was incorrectly identified Thursday in a story about a $1.1-million National Cancer Institute grant to UC Irvine to study colorectal cancer. She is a UCI professor of epidemiology.

The colorectal cancer grant is particularly timely, Anton-Culver said, because the two genes that together account for about 80% of the disease recently were discovered, making it easier to study the cancer's hereditary forms.

She said the grant is significant, as well, because it funds the first population-based study of its kind, the results of which should be applicable throughout the nation. Other studies have focused on specific subgroups, such as only patients who have cancer in the family, she said.

The study will look at everyone who has developed colorectal cancer in Orange, San Diego and Imperial counties from 1984 to 1996--about 2,500 people each year. Anton-Culver said she believes the ethnic and gender mix is appropriate for a national sample.

About 150,000 people develop colorectal cancer each year in the nation, and the disease kills 27,800 men and 28,200 women annually, Anton-Culver said. It is the second most deadly form of cancer behind lung cancer. She said the mortality rate for the disease has changed little during the past 50 years, suggesting that little progress has been made in treatment of the disease.

Anton-Culver's research, aimed at prevention and providing useful information to families at risk, will explore the interaction of genetic and environmental risk factors.

Besides testing for the genetic predisposition to the cancer, the study will assess possible environmental influences such as diet, physical activity and medication use. Certain drugs, such as non-steroid, anti-inflammatory medications, are thought to be a risk factor.

Other potential risk factors already identified in other studies include frequent consumption of red meat, a diet high in cholesterol and fat or low in fiber, and little physical activity.

Researchers will evaluate patients identified through cancer registries in Orange, San Diego and Imperial counties, Anton-Culver said. From that group, 130 families in which at least three cases of colorectal cancer have surfaced in two generations will be recruited. Participants will be asked to complete questionnaires to determine possible risk factors and to donate blood samples for genetic testing.

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