The American Cancer Society, in a report released on Monday, September 17, has found that cancer has overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death within the United States Hispanic population. Since 2000, the society has published Cancer Facts and Figures for Hispanics/Latinos. This latest report also found that heart disease remains the leading cause of death within the non-Hispanic white and African American populations.
50.5 million people out of 310 million people in the country are Hispanic; approximately 16.3 percent, and it is our fastest growing demographic group. According to the report, an estimated 112,800 people will be diagnosed with cancer within the national Hispanic community, and 33,200 will die as a result of the disease in 2012. Although the report found that the overall cancer rates within the Hispanic population were lower than the other demographic groups, Hispanics have both higher diagnoses and death rates from stomach, gallbladder, liver and cervical cancers.
Within the Hispanic population, there are a number of differences that were not taken into account in the report; individuals come from many countries, cultures and ethnicities, making parts of the report somewhat flawed. According to CNN, Mexican Americans have lower cancer rates than individuals from Puerto Rico, and Cuban Americans have higher cancer rates than the Puerto Rican population. These statistics are, in part, because cigarette smoking is much more prevalent within these populations.
The report cites that if there is an increase in cancer screening tests, a reduction in the use of alcohol and tobacco products and increased availability of hepatitis B and HPV vaccines, there can be a significant reduction in cancer deaths not only within the Hispanic population, but the entire country as a whole. According to the report, tobacco and alcohol consumption, coupled with lack of physical exercise and obesity are the leading causes of cancer in the United States. Obesity is a significant problem within the female Hispanic population, which has an obesity rate of approximately 43 percent. This is in comparison to a national female obesity rate of 33 percent. The obesity rate in Hispanic men is approximately 34 percent, much closer to the national average of 32 percent.
The report should serve as a strong reminder to everyone, no matter what demographic we belong to. We need to get a better handle on our behaviors; maintain an healthy weight, stop smoking, exercise on a regular basis and see a healthcare provider on a regular basis for appropriate screenings.