Swanson named associate director for cancer prevention and control research at IU Simon Cancer Center

INDIANAPOLIS -- (Sept. 28, 2007) -- Exercising, eating right, and not smoking or quitting smoking are all ingredients to a healthy lifestyle – a lifestyle that can help reduce cancer.

And it’s G. Marie Swanson’s job as the new associate director for cancer prevention and control research at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center to spread that message to Hoosiers and others.

Swanson views her job as “trying to prevent people from ever getting cancer,” she said.  “The main areas you can focus on are tobacco use, physical activity, and nutrition.  We know that changing these lifestyle choices will reduce risk for many cancers.”   

Those three factors play an enormous role in a person’s chances of developing cancer.  “Effectively changing our practices in these areas gives us the potential to prevent 60 percent of all cancers,” Swanson said.  “Healthy habits in these areas also will reduce the risk of the other major chronic diseases -- such as heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory diseases – by as much as 40 percent to 80 percent.”

What can people do for themselves to help prevent cancer?  Swanson offered these guidelines:

  • Eat a diet low in fat.
  • Eat five servings of fruits and five servings of vegetables per day.
  • Exercise daily.  “You don’t have to run a marathon,” she said.  “You don’t have to be a major athlete.  You can walk at a good clip for 20 minutes a day.  Weight-bearing exercises are very important.  The nice thing about it is you don’t need special equipment.”
  • Quit smoking or never start the habit.

Regular screenings, she pointed out, also are important to help with early detection of cancer. 

In her new role, Swanson and her colleagues will collaborate with the Indiana State Department of Health, the Marion County Health Department, the Indiana Minority Health Coalition, and other key organizations around Indianapolis and the state to develop relationships with all communities. She will place a special emphasis on collaborations with minority communities.

Swanson also has been named professor and associate chair of the Indiana University School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health.  She most recently was the founding dean of the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona.

During her career, Swanson has held many local, regional, and national positions, including leadership in the American Cancer Society and membership on the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cancer Center parent committee. 

Known for her research in cancer epidemiology, Swanson was one of the first U.S. investigators to identify the high risk of both incidence and mortality of breast cancer among young African American women. 

Swanson earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in sociology from Wayne State University and a master’s of public health in epidemiology from The Johns Hopkins University.