Study Finds Cancer Disparites In The Black Population Are Complex

Nov 30, 2016

Credit U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death among blacks in the U.S. As Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray reports a recent study is challenging some previous assumptions about cancer in this group.

A University of Las Vegas study reveals the types of cancer and mortality rates of U.S.-born black are different compared to those who came from the Caribbean. Dr. Paulo Pinheiro is the lead researcher.

“Up to now, we always classify blacks as being homogenous, and for the first time in this study,” Pinheiro explains, “we actually analyze different black populations residing in the United States.”

The study finds that for all cancers combined, the risk of death was at least twice as high for U.S. born black men compared to their Caribbean counterparts living in the U.S. For women, the rate was 60 percent higher. Pinheiro says there are various complex factors:

“Possibly the lifestyle of the different populations, more so than only the genetics and only the different economic status that people have,” Pinheiro says, “and the different insurance that people carry and so on.”

Pinheiro notes that Caribbean immigrants tend to maintain a traditional diet with less red meat and more fruits and vegetables as one example. Other social and cultural factors like smoking, family structure and cumulative lifetime exposure to cancer risks also play a role.