University Study Examines Differences in Cancer Mortality Among Blacks

unlvCancer is the second highest cause of death among African Americans. There have been numerous studies examining the racial gap in cancer rates and mortality rates of cancer patients. Now a new study by researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas examines differences in cancer and mortality rates between native-born African Americans and Blacks born in Caribbean nations.

The research, conducted by scientists in the university’s School of Community Health Sciences, found that among all major racial/ethnic groups in the United States, American-born Blacks had the highest rate of cancer mortality. Caribbean-born Blacks in the United States had the lowest rate.

For all cancers combined, American-born Black males have a cancer mortality rate double that of Caribbean-born Black men. For women, native-born Black Americans have a cancer mortality rate that is 60 percent higher than the rate of Caribbean-born Black immigrants to the United States.

The largest gap between the two groups of Black Americans is in lung cancer. Native-born Black Americans have a lung cancer mortality rate that is four times as high as the rate for Caribbean-born Blacks.

Paulo S. Pinheiro, an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the lead author of the study, says that “Blacks, or individuals of African descent, in the U.S. are very heterogeneous, with diverse social, cultural, and economic backgrounds that fundamentally impact health.”

The authors note that Blacks born outside the U.S. are less likely to smoke. And Caribbean immigrants tend to maintain their traditional diets containing less red meat and higher intake of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, which protect against colorectal cancer. Immigrant fertility rates and breastfeeding patterns may help explain breast cancer differences.

The study, “Black Heterogeneity in Cancer Mortality: US-Blacks, Haitians, and Jamaicans,” was published in the journal Cancer Control. It may be downloaded by clicking here.

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