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A new health initiative was launched in Virginia at three local, historically black churches on Sunday with the goal of encouraging their members to address the high rates of cancer and obesity in the African-American communities surrounding their churches, reported WSLSTV.

The three churches — Bibleway Worldwide Church and East New Hope Baptist Church in Danville, and Shockoe Missionary Baptist Church, in Java — partnered to bring “Project LIFE!” to their congregations.

The project was put together with funding from the Tobacco Commission and Virginia Commonwealth University’s Massey Cancer Center, which did a cancer assessment of the state a year ago and learned that there are high rates of obesity and cancer in the Danville/Pittsylvania County region. The numbers showed that African-Americans in this region have disproportionately high cancer mortality and obesity rates.

For the next 10 months, the three churches will sponsor a variety of faith-based, Project LIFE health promotion activities that will focus on increasing cancer screening, increasing physical activity and healthy nutrition for their parishioners.

The pastors at Bibleway Cathedral all encouraged their congregation to take a more proactive interest in better health.

Co-assistant Pastor Philip Campbell encouraged men to get routine check-ups and prostate cancer screenings. He wrote in the 11 a.m. service’s program that, “In the United States, prostate cancer more commonly affects black men than white or Hispanic men, and is also more deadly in black men

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