Mortality Rates Rise as Income Increases for Latinos with Colorectal Cancer
Consistent with prior studies, researchers from the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC) found higher socioeconomic status (SES) associated with lower rates of colorectal cancer among Whites and African Americans, but surprisingly found that among Hispanics, higher SES was associated with higher rates of colorectal cancer (CRC).
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States, accounting for approximately 10 percent of newly diagnosed cancers and nine percent of cancer deaths. It has long been known that CRC incidence and mortality rates differ widely across racial/ethnic groups. Typically African Americans and Whites experience the highest incidence and mortality rates of CRC, while Asians/Pacific Islanders and Hispanics have lower rates, and groups with lower socioeconomic status consistently have been linked to higher mortality rates for CRC.
“The inverse association of SES and colorectal cancer…with higher rates of cancer among lower SES groups has generally been attributed to risk factors like obesity, diet, and physical inactivity. ,” according to senior author, CPIC Research Scientist Iona Cheng, Ph.D. “Another important driver of rates is also, access to health care particularly, participation in CRC screening programs, .”
Because of increased opportunity for screening for people with higher levels of SES, early detection and removal of precancerous polyps may lead to lower disease rates for that group. Data from the California Health Interview Survey in 2001 indicate that 55 percent of non-Hispanic Whites and 54 percent of African Americans over 50 years of age received some form of screening for CRC within the past five years, with higher screening rates associated with increasing household income and education. In comparison, Hispanics and Asians/Pacific Islanders (36 percent and 43 percent, respectively) had lower screening rates.
“Higher SES Hispanics may adopt a more westernized lifestyle of physical inactivity, obesity, increased red meat consumption, and other health behaviors that serve as CRC risk factors,” said Dr. Cheng. “This is supported by examining ethnic enclaves and finding that Hispanics living in more acculturated neighborhoods had higher incidence rates of CRC than those living in lower acculturation neighborhoods.”
CPIC’s study, which looked at more than 52,000 patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer between 1998 and 2002, found no association between SES and rates of CRC among Asians/Pacific Islanders.
About the Cancer Prevention Institute of California
The Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC) is the nation’s premier organization dedicated to preventing cancer and to reducing its burden where it cannot yet be prevented. CPIC tracks patterns of cancer throughout the entire population and identifies those at risk for developing cancer. Its research scientists are leaders in investigating the causes of cancer in large populations to advance the development of prevention-focused interventions. CPIC’s innovative cancer prevention research and education programs, together with the Stanford Cancer Institute, deliver a comprehensive arsenal for defeating cancer. For more information, visit CPIC’s official website at www.cpic.org.