Studies Look at Colorectal Cancer and Lead Exposure in Blacks, Teen Pregnancy Among Hispanics
The following summarizes recent news coverage of studies related to minorities.
- Colorectal cancer: Colorectal cancer death rates are higher for blacks than whites in the South, according to a recent CDC study, the Rockford Register Star reports. For the study, researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center examined data from 41,830 patients in a dozen southern states and found the colorectal cancer death rate among black men was 32.7 deaths per 100,000 individuals, compared with 22.9 deaths per 100,000 individuals for white men. For women, the death rate was 22.9 deaths per 100,000 for blacks, compared with 15.9 per 100,000 for whites. In addition, blacks who had other family members who were diagnosed with the disease were about half as likely as whites with the same family history to have received a colonoscopy or other recommended screening test in the last five years. A lack of a referral was the No. 1 reason for not undergoing a screening test, followed by costs, the study found (Martin, Rockford Register Star, 5/27).
- Lead: Exposure to lead as a child increases the risk of criminal behavior as an adult and is linked to a significant loss of brain matter that controls several behaviors, according to two separate studies published by the online journal PLoS Medicine, the Baltimore Sun reports. Both studies mostly included low-income black participants living in inner cities. For the first study, researchers led by Kim Cecil, an imaging scientist at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, conducted MRI scans of the brains of 157 people who had been part of the Cincinnati Lead Study since infancy. Researchers measured the lead blood levels of each participant and compared them with their brain volumes periodically until adulthood, finding that those who had the highest lead exposure as children had significantly smaller brain volumes. The volume deficits were mainly in areas of the brain that affected judgment, attention, decision-making and impulse control. The second study, led by Kim Dietrich, also of the medical school, compared blood lead exposure in participants from the first study with their arrest records at age 18 and older. Forty-five percent of the participants had no arrest record, but for every increase of five micrograms per deciliter in a child's blood lead level, there was a 30% increase in arrest rate for violent offenses (Roylance, Baltimore Sun, 5/28).
The first study is available online. The second study is also available online.
- Teen pregnancy: Teenage girls with boyfriends who are affiliated with gangs are twice as likely as girls whose boyfriends are not gang members to become pregnant, according to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, United Press International reports. For the study, researchers from RTI International, the University of California-San Francisco and the University of North Carolina examined the relationship between exposure to gangs and pregnancy among 237 sexually active girls ages 14 to 19 from predominately Hispanic neighborhoods in San Francisco. During the study period, 27.4% of participants became pregnant. Girls whose boyfriends had been incarcerated also were more likely to become pregnant. According to UPI, researchers suggest that "there may be increased perceived social pressures for gang members to have a baby, or women with gang-involved partners may feel less power to negotiate condom use" (UPI, 5/26).
An abstract of the study is available online.