Tracking cancer: the Hispanic factor with Dr. Otis Brawley.

Author:Swaney, Chriss

Cancer picks a fight with you. Now what do you do? Latino Leaders Magazine spoke recently with Dr. Otis W. Brawley, M.D., F.A.C.P., chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, about how to stay well and get well.


He reports that overall about 1 in 3 Hispanic men and 1 in 3 Hispanic women will be diagnosed with cancer or about 22 percent of the Latino population will be diagnosed with cancer. And the lifetime probability of dying from cancer is 1 in 5 for Hispanic men and 1 in 6 for Hispanic women.

Brawley argues that the risk factors for cancer remain relatively the same for all ethnic groups and include abstaining from tobacco use, maintaining a healthy body weight, having an active lifestyle and consuming five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables a day and limiting red meat intake to two to three servings a week.

"Fish and white meat like chicken are the safest bet for diets," he cautions. "Baked chicken is wonderful."

However, the big difference for risk factors in Hispanic women of Mexican origin remains the ongoing battle with obesity.

"Forty-five percent of Mexican women are obese compared with Hispanic women from other parts of Latin America," says Brawley.

He notes that this obesity issue though is more of a socioeconomic one and that income is directly related to those most at risk for cancer.

"I have a prejudice. Poor people are most vulnerable. We are finding that income plays a big factor in the number of times women and men seek special cancer screening and regular doctor visits," says Brawley, who oversees more than 800 research grants at universities nationwide to help solve the cancer conundrum and find its Achilles heel.

There are typically many mutations in a single cancer cell. But there are a limited number of ways that the body can produce energy and support rapid growth. Cancer cells rely on these fuels in a way that healthy cells don't. So, some researchers are now targeting the body's metabolism--slowing or stopping tumors by disrupting one or more of the chemical reactions a cell uses to proliferate.

Brawley points to a recent study done by the American Cancer Society that finds that Hispanics have a higher risk for cancer associated with infectious agents such as the liver, stomach, cervix and...

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