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Living in U.S. Raises Cancer Risk for Hispanics

Study Shows Cancer Rates Rise for Hispanics After They Move to U.S.

Cancer Rates in U.S. vs. Country of Origin continued...

But cancer risk increases after they come to the U.S., he says, presumably as Hispanics adopt unhealthy U.S. lifestyle habits such as eating fast food too frequently.

Even though many studied were first generation, Hispanics in Florida had at least a 40% increased rate of cancer than Hispanics who lived in their countries of origin, the researchers found.

Then the researchers looked more closely at the subgroups. "Each Latino population has a different cancer profile," Pinheiro says. Among his findings:

  • Puerto Ricans in the study had the highest rates of cancer overall, followed by Cubans and Mexicans.
  • Puerto Ricans in general had cancer rates close to that of whites, with a few exceptions. Lung cancer and melanoma in men and women and breast cancer in women were lower in Puerto Ricans than in whites. But Puerto Ricans had high rates of cervical, stomach, and liver cancer, the same as in Hispanic countries. Puerto Rican men had the highest rates for oral cavity and liver cancers of all the Hispanic populations analyzed.
  • Cubans were comparable with whites in cancer rates, including low rates of cervical and stomach cancers. Cuban men were most afflicted by cancer associated with tobacco, such as lung and larynx, bladder, kidney, and pancreas. Cuban women had the highest rate of colorectal cancer among all women studied.
  • Mexicans had the lowest cancer incidence rate of all the subgroups. They had especially low rates of prostate, breast, endometrial, and colorectal cancers. But they had higher rates of cancers associated with minorities -- such as stomach, cervical, and liver -- than did whites.

Heritage Protects Hispanics

The researchers' finding "confirms some trends we've been seeing in the last few years -- that different U.S. Hispanic populations groups, such as Cubans, Mexicans, and Puerto Ricans, have higher incidence rates of certain cancers than they do in their homelands,"  says Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH, director of the Institute for Health Promotion and Research and co-associate director of the Cancer Prevention and Population Studies Research Program at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio.

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