Cancer Mortality May Increase for Successive Generations of Latino Immigrants

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In 2016 the United States Census Bureau estimated that 18% of the population in the continental United States and Hawaii, approximately 57.5 million people, identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino.[1]

Although cancer is the leading cause of death among Latinos, accounting for 21% of deaths, they are generally less likely than non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with the most common cancers (lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate), they have a higher risk for cancers associated with infectious agents, such as liver, stomach, and cervix.[1]

In addition, a study, funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), presented at the 11th AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved, held here November 2-5, 2018 in the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA suggests that Latinos in the United States experienced an overall increased risk of cancer death with each generation born in this country.

The annual Science of Cancer Health Disparities conferences organized by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is designed to advance the understanding of, and ultimately help to eliminate, cancer health disparities.

Speakers and attendees included a transdisciplinary field of professionals from academia, industry, government, and the community interested in the exchange of novel ideas, discuss the latest findings in the field, and stimulate the development of new research on health disparities.

“Latinos are the largest and the fastest growing minority population in the United States, and cancer is the leading cause of death among this population, accounting for 21 percent of deaths in 2016,” said the study’s lead author, V. Wendy Setiawan, Ph.D, associate professor of preventive medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

“In spite of this, cancer-related factors affecting Latinos remain understudied in contrast to other racial/ethnic populations in the U.S.,” she added.


…research has shown that U.S.-born Latinos have higher incidence of cancer than foreign-born Latinos…


Previous research has shown that U.S.-born Latinos have higher incidence of cancer than foreign-born Latinos. To gain more information on the influence of acculturation and environmental factors, Setiawan and colleagues examined cancer mortality patterns across first-generation immigrants, and second- and third-generation U.S.-born Mexican Americans in the Multiethnic Cohort Study, a long-term study funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Photo 1.0: V. Wendy Setiawan, Ph.D is a cancer epidemiologist focusing on understanding the determinants of racial/ethnic differences in cancer incidence and mortality and identifying populations at highest risk because of genetic and biologic factors, environmental exposures, or a combination of both. Her research goal is to identify effective modalities for disease prevention for population at risk and ultimately reduce cancer health disparities. Her primary research interest in cancer study is focused on endometrial, liver, and pancreatic cancer.

The researchers studied 29,308 Latinos of Mexican origin, aged 45-74 when they entered the cohort. During an average follow-up of 17.7 years, 2,915 cancer deaths were identified.

Third-generation
The study showed that the highest cancer death rate occurred among third-generation U.S.-born Latinos (537 per 100,000), followed by second-generation Latinos with one parent born in Mexico (526 per 100,000) or both parents born in Mexico (481 per 100,000). The lowest cancer death rate occurred among first-generation immigrants (381 per 100,000).

The study also showed trends in certain cancer types. The risk of lung, colorectal, and liver cancer deaths were significantly higher among third-generation U.S.-born Latinos compared with the first-generation Mexico-born immigrants. Setiawan said these cancers are often caused by environmental factors, which could explain the more pronounced risks through several generations.

Diet, lifestyle and environment
“Diet, lifestyle, and environmental changes as individuals become more acculturated to the American way of life may contribute to these higher rates among the third-generation immigrants,” Setiawan said.

The risks of prostate, stomach, and pancreatic cancer deaths were similar across all generations, Setiawan added.

She said this study adds to previous research that has shown how acculturation and environmental factors have affected the growing Latino population.

Disparities in cancer mortality
“The disparities in cancer mortality we observed in U.S. Latinos are likely due to changes in lifestyle, health behaviors, and social factors,” Setiawan said. “This study is a reminder that some factors that contribute to cancer risk are modifiable.”

Setiawan cautioned that as an observational study, this work does not prove that successive generations of Latino immigrants in the United States face increased risk of cancer mortality. She said future research will examine a combination of risk factors, including lifestyle, migration history, genetic ancestry, and social and contextual factors.

References
Cancer Facts & Figures for Hispanics and Latinos. American Cancer Society. Online. Last accessed November 3, 2018


Last Editorial Review: November 3, 2018

Featured Image: Hispanic family seated against a cloudy sky. Courtesy: © 2010 – 2018 Fotolia. Used with permission. Photo 1.0: V. Wendy Setiawan, Ph.D is a cancer epidemiologist focusing on understanding the determinants of racial/ethnic differences in cancer incidence and mortality and identifying populations at highest risk because of genetic and biologic factors, environmental exposures, or a combination of both. Her research goal is to identify effective modalities for disease prevention for population at risk and ultimately reduce cancer health disparities. Her primary research interest in cancer study is focused on endometrial, liver, and pancreatic cancer. Courtesy: © 2018 Ricardo Carrasco III. Used with permission.

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