11/07/2011 04:40 pm ET | Updated Jan 07, 2012

American Cancer Society To Conduct 30 Year Cancer Prevention Study In La Plata County

A Colorado region known for producing large amounts of uranium in the 1960s has been selected for a large-scale study by the American Cancer Society (ACS).

According to the Associated Press, the study will follow residents of La Plata County for 30 years, examining the interplay between environmental and genetic factors, lifestyle, and cancer rates.

Candidates for the study, designated a 'CPS-3,' must be between 30 and 65 with no prior occurrences of cancer. CPS-3 is the Society's third 'Cancer Prevention Study,' and aims to enroll at least 300,000 adults in regions across the U.S., including La Plata County.

Participants will be required to submit a small blood sample, complete a survey, provide basic physical measurements, and follow up with researchers every two years in a mail-based questionnaire.

The Durango Herald notes anecdotal evidence of La Plata County's higher than normal rates of cancer, attributed to uranium and vanadium mining in the area, with mining wastes often being used in roadbed repair and building materials. In the 1980s, 2.5 million tons of radioactive material were moved away from a site near downtown Durango and buried outside of town.

A separate study, conducted from 1980-1989 around Rocky Flats, found the incidence of cancers in the area was not higher than expected compared to the rest of the Denver Metro area. Rocky Flats produced nuclear weapons components for four decades beginning in 1952. That study was conducted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).