1. What is the purpose of The Multiethnic Cohort (MEC) Study?
The MEC study examines diet and lifestyle risk factors of 5 different ethnic groups in order to identify why they have different risks of developing cancer. The cohort will be followed over time for the incidence of cancer, as well as other chronic diseases.
2. Who is conducting the study?
The study is being conducted by University of Hawai‘i (UH) Cancer Center in collaboration with University of Southern California (USC) Keck School of Medicine. Dr. Loic Le Marchand and Dr. Lynne Wilkens are the principal investigators at UH and Dr. Brian Henderson is the principal investigator at USC.
3. Who is funding the study?
The study is funded by National Cancer Institute (NCI), a federal agency that is responsible for most of the nation’s cancer research programs. NCI is an institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
4. How was I recruited for the study?
We wanted to reach most adults living in the two areas where the study was being conducted. Since most adults have a driver’s license, Driver’s License files were the main source used to recruit participants residing in the state of Hawai‘i and the L.A. metropolitan area of California. People who were between the age of 45 and 75 in 1993 and who we thought belonged to the 5 different ethnic groups we were funded to study (Caucasians, Japanese, Native Hawaiians, African Americans and Hispanics) were selected.
5. Am I still qualified to participate in the study if I moved out of Hawai‘i or California?
Yes, as long as you were a resident of Hawai‘i or California when you entered the study between 1993 and 1996 you will always remain a study member. However, no new participants are being recruited now that the cohort has been established.
6. How will you follow-up on participants over time?
Every 5-10 years, we recontact participants. We have already mailed out three questionnaires in addition to the very first (baseline) questionnaire to get updated information on diets and other information such as vitamin usage, medication history and physical activity. It is necessary to have updated information from our participants in order to continue our important research.
The Multiethnic Bulletin, an annual fall newsletter, is mailed to all of our participants to keep them informed of the study’s activities and findings.
7. Why am I so important?
You are a very important member of the original cohort who started this study. Each and every member of this valuable group’s input is needed. We cannot ask anyone else to take your place; only the original group of people who started the study can help us.
8. Why do you collect blood and urine specimens?
These specimens can be used for many kinds of research. Primarily, they complement the dietary information from the questionnaires by enabling us to examine the relation of dietary components measured in blood and urine to the risk of cancer. They are also used to study the interaction between genetic susceptibility (an inherited tendency to react more strongly to particular exposures) and diet in relation to the causation of cancer. The ultimate goal is to identify ways to prevent cancer.
9. If I refuse to provide a blood or urine specimen, am I no longer a participant in the study?
You are still a participant in the study even if you refuse to provide a blood or urine specimen. Completing our questionnaires is a major contribution itself.
10. What do I receive in return for participating in the study?
We hope it’s gratifying to know that your contribution to our research will benefit people now and in the future by bringing us closer to understanding the causes and means for prevention of cancer.
You will receive the Multiethnic Bulletin every year which is a newsletter for study participants. We will bring you up to date on the study’s activities and research findings.
11. Will I receive any research results?
Because this is a research project, we will not be releasing the results of any individual research tests. Information learned from the research that could be of possible medical benefit will be provided to you through our annual newsletter, the Multiethnic Bulletin.
12. What happens to the questionnaires that are collected?
Several steps are followed to process the questionnaires after they are received:
First, the completed questionnaires are marked in a database tracking system as being received.
Next, they are carefully inspected to determine adequacy for optical scanning. For example, we check that the marked bubbles are dark enough to be read by the scanner (a machine that works somewhat like those that read the codes at the check-out counters in grocery stores).
At that point, the questionnaires are run through the scanner which reads all of the marked bubbles.
Once the information is scanned, it undergoes both manual and computer edits for further checking. As an example, if two answers (instead of only one) are marked for a single question, we check to see whether one answer (marked bubble) was actually an incomplete erasure by the person who filled in the questionnaire. When all necessary corrections or edits have been made to the scanned data, they are ready to be analyzed to answer the questions posed by the researchers.