Speaker presents forum on mapping cancers in Iowa

Speaker presents forum on mapping cancers in Iowa

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and tobacco and alcohol use cause many forms of the disease.

Dr. Jacob Oleson, a biostatistician of the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa, will be presenting a forum on March 31 at 9 a.m. in Lekberg Hall. He will discuss the links between alcohol and tobacco use and cancer in Iowa.

“One in two males will get some type of cancer,” said Professor of Biology Pat Singer. “One in three females will also get cancer sometime in their life. About 30 percent of cancer deaths here in the United States are linked to tobacco use.”

According to the Just Eliminate Lies Iowa Web site, nearly 35 million smokers attempt to quit each year, and only 7 percent of them are successful.

This forum event will focus on Oleson’s findings of how there are 10 different cancers that are linked to tobacco use that result in damage to almost every organ in the body.

The National Cancer Institute states that tobacco use is the leading changeable risk factor. Age and gender can’t be changed while tobacco use is something that can easily be changed in order to increase health. When alcohol is mixed with tobacco, the risk of getting one of the 10 cancers is increased greatly.

“In the talk I will be giving, I will look at some cancers associated with excessive tobacco and alcohol use,” Oleson said. “We look at the number of cancer cases in every county in Iowa from 1973 until 2002. We’ll look at each county and see which ones have the highest risk and which ones have the lowest risks of getting any of these cancers.”

Dr. Oleson is speaking as part of the Midwest Undergraduate Mathematics Symposium and this event is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Mathematical Association of American.

Oleson will focus his talk on three main cancers: lung caner, oral cancer and esophageal cancer and statistics from risk estimates will be taken and plotted onto a map. He will look at the mathematics of the estimates to find the risk level.

Oleson graduated from Central College and has a degree in mathematics. He went on to receive his Ph.D. from Missouri in statistics and was a research assistant for the medical school and the Missouri Department of Conservation. This began his research interests of spatial statistics, missing data analysis methods and small area estimation in the framework of Bayesian hierarchical modeling.

“I think Dr. Oleson will inform the audience on cancers and show the different ways to look at the problems and different ways to solve the problems,” junior Tracy Robson said. “It will be interesting to see a concrete application of math and real data.”