Do Race & Ethnicity Affect Cancer Risk

NMCAWapril09logoRacial and ethnic minority populations continue to grow such that by mid-century, Latino, black and Asian populations are expected to represent the majority of people living in the US, according to the Census Bureau.  This is already the case for the nation’s largest metropolitan areas and it is increasingly becoming the case in smaller communities fueled by the growing Latino population.  In light of this fact, minority health and health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities is not a issue for special populations but rather an issue that concerns us all especially as we examine the health status of the population as a whole.  Nevertheless, the third week in April (19-25) is set aside as National Cancer Minority Awareness Week.

Do race and ethnicity affect cancer risk?

Each year, cancer statistics continue to show that minority groups are more likely than the general population to develop and/or die from certain types of cancer.  As researchers continue to unravel the multiple contributing factors to this issue there are things that individuals can do for themselves.

About fifty percent of cancer deaths can be prevented through regularly scheduled screenings, healthy eating, regular physical activity and quitting tobacco use. However, minorities continue to have lower screening rates than whites; report less leisure-time activity than recommended – less than the recommended 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity above usual activities on five or more days per week; and consume less fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The American Cancer Society recommends eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day, choosing whole grains in preference to processed grains and limiting consumption of processed and red meats.

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(click through the image link)

Despite  health disparities, race and ethnicity are only two among several factors that contribute to cancer risk.  This personal cancer risk profile tool (developed by the University of Texas MD Andersen Cancer Center) can help you begin to assess your own risk for cancer. This questionnaire will determine specific actions you can take to reduce your risks for developing cancer and/or to make sure that you identify the disease in the earliest, most treatable phase.

Learn More at The American Cancer Society website and MD Andersen Cancer Center website

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