March 13, 2007

Art to prevent cancer

Native American artists use art and storytelling to bring cancer statistics to lifeAs an internist and health-care economist, Scott Ramsey, M.D., Ph.D., is used to looking at cancer statistics in black and white. Lately, however, he's been seeing them in shades of vibrant red and deep blue.

These are the predominant colors in an acrylic painting by Tacoma artist Chholing Taha that is part of an equally bold effort to educate Northwest American Indians and Alaska Natives, through visual art and storytelling, about the importance of cancer prevention and screening.

"Art and storytelling remains a very powerful means for communicating information among American Indians and Alaskan Natives and may be the best way to educate people in these communities about health behaviors related to cancer screening and prevention," said Ramsey, a member of the Hutchinson Center's Public Health Sciences Division and a professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine who is conducting research on the use of specific cancer-screening services among tribal communities in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

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