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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

SDSU: Researchers Examine Hispanic American Health More Closely

There are subtle and sometimes significant differences in food habits, cultural mores, and lifestyles among Cubans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Central and South Americans in the U.S. This also extends to their risks of getting cancer and dying from it. Yet the subgroups tend to be bunched under the larger umbrella of Hispanic Americans, much like Asian Americans, despite the inherent diversity.

A San Diego State University (SDSU) study is among the first to describe trends in cancer mortality by specific Hispanic group for the 10 leading causes of cancer deaths nationwide. The study is the result of a third-generation Mexican-American graduate student researcher, Mr. Steven Zamora’s, curiosity in wanting to understand his own risks

“I wanted to study something that would have lasting impact and this was very rewarding personally,” said Mr. Zamora, who completed his master’s in public health at San Diego State University School of Public Health.  “While Hispanic groups may have similar stories when it comes to immigration, they’re very different in terms of job and education opportunities, health outcomes, and access to care.”

Published online first at Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers &  Prevention, the study found Mexican American and Puerto Rican American males were dying at twice the rate of non-Hispanic whites from stomach and liver cancers.

“These are the two most worrisome cancers for Hispanic Americans, and both are caused by chronic infection,” said Dr. Caroline Thompson, senior study author and assistant professor of public health at SDSU. “We also found that liver cancer mortality rates are increasing for males and females of all Hispanic groups.”

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