University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center studies show Native Hawaiian and African American smokers have a higher risk of acquiring lung cancer than smokers of other ethnic/racial groups.
The study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that for the same amount of smoking, Native Hawaiians and African Americans have twice the risk of getting lung cancer than Japanese Americans and Latinxs, with the risk of Caucasian smokers being intermediate. This new analysis of almost 5,000 cases in the Multi-ethnic Cohort Study shows major differences in the risk of lung cancer among smokers from various ethnic/racial groups.
“It is still not clear why these striking ethnic disparities exist in the risk of lung cancer,” said Loic Le Marchand, principal investigator and UH Cancer Center epidemiologist. “By better understanding differences in the way people smoke and the biological changes that lead to lung cancer, we hope to help reduce ethnic/racial disparities in the occurrence of this deadly disease.”
In Hawai‘i, Native Hawaiians have the highest rate of lung cancer compared to other ethnic groups. In 2016, Hawai‘i State Department of Health statistics reported an overall smoking rate in Hawai‘i of 14 percent; however, 27 percent of Native Hawaiians were smokers.
“Native Hawaiians should particularly be advised to not start smoking or to quit if they are still smoking. We know that smoking is a major cause of lung cancer in all populations and that avoiding smoking lowers one’s risk of lung cancer substantially. Smoking causes 90 percent of all lung cancers and increases the risk of many other types of cancer and chronic conditions,” said Le Marchand.
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