United Supermarkets, Texas Tech Team for Cancer Prevention Project

United Supermarkets is teaming up with Texas Tech University and its Health Sciences Center arm to embark on a public-private pilot test project that will target cancer prevention and recurrence rates in a singular rural community through February 2013.

Funded by the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas, the pilot intervention program will study and prevent cancer and recurrence rates of what is considered to be the most preventable sources of cancer -- obesity, tobacco use and sunburn -- in Muleshoe, which if successful, could be replicated in other rural communities across the state.

Participants will be randomly selected and evaluated through repeated measurements of body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure levels, food records and tobacco product usage. An analysis of the participants’ three-day food records, supermarket sales records and survey data assessing health status and cancer-preventing related behaviors will also be monitored, as will behavior changes in both the type and frequency of sunburn prevention practices and tobacco product usage. United Supermarkets will in turn help expose participants in the program to cancer prevention educational materials, which emphasize cancer-preventing foods.

In discussing the Lubbock-based regional retailer’s integral participation in the important research study, United Supermarkets’ corporate dietician, Tyra M. Carter, said, “We strive to make a positive impact on our guests’ lives every day and, through this partnership with the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, we will be actively working to reduce cancer risks and change behaviors in our very own community.”

Conrad P. Lyford, Texas Tech professor and project director, said, “There appears to be little difference in the cancer incidence and mortality rates of rural and urban populations. However, evidence suggests that cancer tends to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage among rural populations,” which he says often have limited services available to foster the prevention of cancer. “This project implements and tests the effectiveness of an accessible program designed to reduce cancer risks,” Lyford added.

In addition to provided participants with cancer prevention educational materials emphasizing nutrient rich, cancer-preventing foods, United Supermarkets will also conduct food demonstrations and consumer education classes that focus on cancer risk factors, cancer prevention, and the importance of appropriate preventive actions (e.g. cancer screenings) at store locations and other community venues.

Now in its 95th year of operation, the family-owned United Supermarkets has stores in 30 markets across north and west Texas. A self-distributing company with its headquarters in Lubbock and distribution centers in Lubbock and Roanoke, United currently operates 51 stores under four distinct formats: United Supermarkets, Market Street, Amigos United and United Express.

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