Cancer Conference in Sacramento Examines Effect of U.S. Lifestyles on Asian-American Immigrants
Cancer remains the leading cause of death among some Asian Americans today, but fewer develop the disease or die from it than in the past, according to research presented Friday and Saturday at the fifth annual Asian-American Cancer Control Academy in Sacramento, the Sacramento Bee reports (Griffiths, Sacramento Bee, 10/22).
The conference, which concluded Saturday, sought to help track changes in habits and lifestyles as Asian immigrants adapt to U.S. society and future generations establish themselves in the United States (Estrella, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/22). According to the Bee, the adoption of U.S. lifestyles has increased risk for cancer and other diseases for a number of Asian-American populations.
At the conference -- hosted by the Asian-American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training -- the state Department of Health Services Cancer Surveillance Section presented the results of an analysis that found cancer incidence among Asian Americans decreased 5.9% between 1988 and 2001 and that deaths from the disease decreased 16.3% over the same period. However, Korean Americans experienced only a 0.2% decrease in cancer incidence between 1998 and 2001, and Filipinos experienced a 2.5% increase in deaths from the disease over the same period, according to the analysis.
According to Moon Chen, a professor of public health sciences at the University of California-Davis School of Medicine, Asian Americans have higher incidences of cancer caused by infections, such as the human papillomavirus, in part because of a lack of preventive care that results from cultural beliefs (Sacramento Bee, 10/22).
A survey presented at the conference by the DHS Tobacco Control Section also found that 11% of Asian-American women who are fluent in English are smokers, compared with 4% of those who are less fluent. However, 17% of Asian-American men who are fluent in English smoke, compared with 25% of less-fluent Asian-American men, the survey found.
Hao Tang, a researcher with the DHS Tobacco Control Section, said the survey results likely indicate acculturation, adding, "Smoking becomes a symbol of freedom, especially among ethnic women" (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/22).
Other research presented at the conference found:
- The incidence of breast cancer has increased at a faster rate among Asian-American state residents than among any other major ethnic group.
- Asian Americans in California smoke less than the general state population (Sacramento Bee, 10/22). However, 36% of Korean-American men and 32% of Vietnamese-American men smoke, compared with about 20% of California men (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/22).
- The percentage of Asian and Pacific Islander children in California who are overweight, a risk factor for cancer, increased from 7% to 15% between 1994 and 2003 (Sacramento Bee, 10/22).