Simulating disease trends with massive mathematical models

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Models can help determine who is at risk for disease

Researcher Karen Kuntz is currently developing a model to evaluate trends in colorectal cancer incidence and mortality. Nearly 50,000 Americans die each year from the disease, despite the fact that more than half of colorectal cancers could potentially be prevented through lifestyle changes and routine screening. With such models, Kuntz and other researchers can help determine who is at risk for disease and how changes to risk factors such as diet and exercise can affect long-term health outcomes. Kuntz has worked on about a dozen health topics such as heart disease and asthma, but colorectal cancer intrigues her because it is one of the few cancers that can be staved off. “Hopefully, the more research done in this area and the more information that comes out about the value of screening and changing risk factors, the more people we can help,” said Kuntz.