lung cancer among Caucasian Americans

The image above shows the relationship between different forms of cancer and racial differences. The data shows a higher prevalence only in lung, kidney, and breast cancer among white individuals compared to African Americans, Asians, American Indians, and Hispanic.

Based on the information in class there should not be much difference, if any at all, between the cancer prevalence in different races. To have a difference in the occurrence of individuals, it would need to be at a genetic level. Such examples of this are described in the video such as malaria resistance in Africa that can be passed on through generations by an allele and was a result of evolution. However, with cancer being a relatively new discovery and not yet knowing exactly how it works and how to cure individuals I would not say an adaptation has occurred over time between races and certain forms of cancer. This is also different than the video example of type 2 diabetes in the US Pima vs. the Mexican Pima people because diet is not affecting the rate of incidence. However, it is similar in the fact that certain types of cancer have shown to be passed on a make the next generation more susceptible to the same type of cancer, such as the case in breast cancer.

There are many forms of cancer and some can be identified by cultural habits. For example, those individuals whom spend more time in the sun or have a lighter skin tone may be more apt to get skin cancer if exposed to the suns radiation. For a disease such as lung cancer however, environmental factors such as smoking are a major factor. The Journal referenced also has a disclaimer that it tracks incidence and mortality to observe the difference in race more closely. The incidence rates among the wealthier class individuals may have a higher value but a lower mortality rate because they have access to health care. Patients who receive screening for cancer more often can solve the problem before it worsens leading to mortality. The Journal also references the increase amount of hormone replacement therapy in Caucasians compared to African American may have a part in cancer incidence. I think the types of cancer found in greater amounts in Caucasians are likely just incidence rates due to increase screening and a wealth perspective.

Jemal, Ahmedin, Rebecca Siegel, Elizabeth Ward, Yongping Hao, Jiaquan Xu, Taylor Murray, and Michael J. Thun. “Cancer statistics, 2008.” CA: a cancer journal for clinicians 58, no. 2 (2008): 71-96.

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Haley Macko says:

    Personally, I emphasized the concept of race more in my post than in your rationalization of this relationship. Similar social and cultural influences are what are essentially linking people to a race. And it’s in these disparities, of dietary practice, access to education and access to health care, that a person identifies with one race and not another. There are substantial differences in socioeconomic factors, as well. The socioeconomic determinants of health are the environments in which a person lives and includes education, wealth and neighborhood.
    I am mainly getting tangled in one sentence you wrote in your post, “to have a difference in the occurrence of individuals, it would need to be at a genetic level,” because I explained the relationship between race, genetics and health as being interwoven. The example I used to further explain this relationship was of the Pima Indians. They were more prone to diabetes because of a mutation their ancestor developed, which is one-third of the genetics, race and health relationship. And they marry within their own community, therefore, are more likely to produce offspring with this mutation, introducing an additional one-third of the relationship. Then the mutation, influenced by genetics and race, causes the Pima Indians to store fat leading to obesity and Type II diabetes, impairing their overall health.
    I think using racial categories in clinical studies has been very instrumental in determining the distribution of disease. In addition, race gives us a general knowledge of the environment in which a person lives in, their socioeconomic status, which as we have discussed greatly impacts overall health. However, I think by geographically categorizing racialized health disparities it may give us a little more insight into the prevalence of a disease as supported by genetics or race.

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