American Indians in Northern Plains Have Higher Rates of Cancer Than Those in Other Regions, Whites, Research Finds
American Indians in the Northern Plains region have higher rates of cancer than American Indians in other regions, according to research published in the journal Cancer, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. In addition, the research shows that when compared with whites in the same region, American Indians have a:
- 39% higher colon and rectal cancer rate;
- 135% higher stomach cancer rate;
- 148% higher gallbladder cancer rate; and a
- 197% higher liver cancer rate.
The research also found that:
- Native Alaskans had some of the highest cancer rates in the nation;
- Northern Plains American Indians have the highest rate of lung cancer among American Indians nationwide; and
- The breast cancer rate among American Indian women living in the Southwest is half the rate of white women, while American Indian women living in the Northern Plains region have a similar breast cancer rate as white women.
David Perdue -- one of the scientists leading the research and a University of Minnesota gastroenterologist, who has specialized in research on cancer and health disparities involving American Indians -- said the higher cancer rates can be attributed to differences in diet, genetics, environmental conditions and smoking and diabetes rates. He added that genetic and cultural differences among different American Indian subgroups also contribute to cancer rates, noting that studies often group different American Indian subgroups together. Perdue said, "American Indians tend to be diagnosed with later-stage disease," which makes it "harder to treat and harder to survive." Early detection and lifestyle changes could prevent a majority of the cancers, he said.
He recommended increased awareness and additional funding for screening and treatment to address the issue. "It is evident from this research that much more needs to be done to close the disparity gap," he said (Lerner, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8/20).
Several studies on cancer and American Indians and Alaska Natives are available in a supplement of the journal Cancer.
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