Increased cancer risks for Hispanics who move to USA

Hispanics who move to the USA increase their risk of several types of cancer within the first generation. Increased risk of prostate, colorectal and endometrial cancer affect people who move to the USA from Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico and other Latin American nations, according to a study published August 1, 2009 in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention.

Some cancers such as stomach cancer that are common in the countries of origin become less of a threat; but first generation Hispanic/Latino immigrants may find themselves at risk for types of cancer which never affected their families in the old country.

All-cancer incidence for Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans in Florida was at least 40% higher compared with their compatriots in their home countries (see Tables).

The higher incidence among Hispanics in the United States occurred for all common cancers: breast, prostate, colorectal, and lung. Particularly for lung cancer, Mexican and Puerto Rican rates in Florida were four times higher in women and double in men than rates in their home countries (Figs. 1 and 2). Conversely, higher incidence of stomach cancer in both sexes and liver cancer in females was seen in the home countries for all subpopulations.

"Despite being overwhelmingly first generation in the U.S. mainland, Puerto Ricans and Cubans in Florida showed rates of colorectal, endometrial, and prostate cancers similar to Whites in Florida."

Immigrants who base their health expectations on family history need to be aware of this increased risk. "Because rates are markedly lower in their countries of origin," the study authors say, "the increased risk for cancer among Cubans, Mexicans, and Puerto Ricans who move to the United States should be further studied."

This study "used data from all 301,944 cancer cases among Florida residents, diagnosed between 1999 and 2001, and reported to the Florida Cancer Data System."

Prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers were the top three incident cancers for all males, regardless of race and ethnicity. Bladder cancer followed for Hispanics and Whites, but stomach cancer was the fourth most common cancer for Black men. Among Florida women, breast, lung, colorectal, and endometrial cancer were the most common cancers. Cervical cancer was the fifth most common in Blacks, sixth in Hispanics, and only tenth among White women.

Prostate, colorectal, and endometrial cancers among Hispanics were similar to Whites.

Liver cancer, gall bladder cancer, and acute lymphocytic leukemia among Hispanics were higher than Whites and Blacks.

Stomach and cervical cancers, traditionally associated with Hispanic ethnicity, were more common in Blacks than among Hispanics and Whites.

Cubans at Risk from Tobacco Use and Cuban Women At High Risk of Colon Cancer

Among Hispanics, Cuban men were the most afflicted by cancers with either a strong (lung, larynx) or moderate association with tobacco (bladder, kidney, and pancreas). But so far the rate of lung cancer in men and breast cancer in women is lower for Cubans than for Whites.

"Compared with Whites, Cubans in Florida showed higher rates of liver cancer but lower rates of lung cancer in men and breast cancer in women," the authors write. On the other hand, "Cuban women had the highest rate of colorectal cancer among all females, regardless of race/ethnicity."

Mexicans

"Mexicans had the lowest cancer incidence rates of all Hispanic populations. For non-tobacco-related cancers, prostate, breast, endometrial, and colorectal cancers, Mexican rates were remarkably low. For cancers generally common among minorities, for example, stomach, cervix, and liver, rates for Mexicans in Florida were higher than those in Whites."

Puerto Ricans

By and large Puerto Ricans in Florida "consistently showed the highest cancer rates of all Hispanic subpopulations. For most cancers, rates were close to those of Whites. Lung cancer and melanoma in both sexes and female breast were notable exceptions, with much lower rates in Puerto Ricans than in Whites. As expected, Puerto Ricans had high rates of cervix, stomach, and liver, typical of Hispanic countries. Puerto Rican males also showed the highest rates for two alcohol-related cancers, oral cavity and liver cancers, among all populations analyzed."

Dominicans and other New Latinos

"New Latinos combine populations with relatively high (South Americans and Spaniards) and low (Central Americans and Dominicans) economic and educational indicators," the study says. "Among all populations analyzed, New Latinos had the lowest rates of lung cancer and the highest rates of thyroid cancer. Like other Hispanics, they showed high rates of stomach, cervix, and liver cancers."

"All-cancer incidence for Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans in Florida," the authors write, "was at least 40% higher compared with their compatriots in their home countries. The higher incidence among Hispanics in the United States occurred for all common cancers: breast, prostate, colorectal, and lung. Particularly for lung cancer, Mexican and Puerto Rican rates in Florida were four times higher in women and double in men than rates in their home countries." On the other hand, moving to the USA generally reduces incidence of stomach cancer in both sexes.

Read the full text of this article online:

Cancer Incidence in First Generation U.S. Hispanics: Cubans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and New Latinos. Paulo S. Pinheiro and team. Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Miami, Florida and Florida Dept. of Health. Reprints available by email request.


Información de referencia sobre el cáncer
- American Cancer Society

M. D. Anderson Cancer Center (Espagnol)