Overall Rate of Cancer Highest Among California Ethnic Groups Living in United States Longest, Study Finds
California ethnic groups that have lived in the United States the longest have the highest overall rate of cancer, according to a study recently released by the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Southern California, the AP/Desert Sun reports.
The study -- conducted by Dennis Deapen, director of the Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance Program, and epidemiologist Myles Cockburn -- includes more than 14 years of data on almost two million California residents diagnosed with invasive and some noninvasive cancers. Medical professionals reported the data under state law.
According to the study, ethnic groups that have lived in the United States the longest -- African Americans and whites -- have the highest overall rate of cancer, and recent immigrants -- such as Vietnamese, Koreans, Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis -- have lower overall rates. Researchers said that the increased risk of cancer might result from the U.S. lifestyle, which can include more high-fat and low-fiber foods and less exercise.
According to the study, African-American men have the highest overall rate of cancer and are almost three times as likely as South Asian men to develop cancer and five times as likely to die from the disease. White men have the second-highest overall rate of cancer, the study found. Among women, the study found that white women have the highest overall rate of cancer, followed by African-American women.
However, the study also found that immigrants who do not assimilate into U.S. culture have higher rates of certain cancers. For example, the study found that Asians have the highest rates of stomach cancer, which researchers attributed in part to bacterium found in Asian food. Koreans have the highest rate of stomach cancer, the study found.
The study also found that assimilation into U.S. culture can help reduce the rates of certain cancers. The rate of cervical cancer among Vietnamese women in California has decreased since 1988 because younger residents are more likely to visit gynecologists, and the rate of liver cancer has decreased among some ethnic groups because Hepatitis B is less prevalent in the United States, according to the study.
Jacqueline Tran, program manager for the Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Community Alliance, said that the study will help with a five-year project to reduce the rate of cervical and breast cancers among Vietnamese women.
"When you lump the Asians and the Pacific Islanders together ... you can't really tell where the issues are. We need to be able to see where the changes are specific to each community," she said.
Deapen said, "We're all in the same community here, drinking the same water and breathing the same air, and yet these cancer rates and trends are too profoundly different by ethnic group. The best explanation is that California is an immigration landing spot" (AP/Desert Sun, 12/17).