18 May 2010

Researchers study cancer risk factors in Hawaii, Guam

9:02 pm on 18 May 2010

Researchers in Guam and Hawaii are studying the risk factors for breast and other cancers among Pacific populations in U.S. Territories.

Their research will look at the environmental, genetic, lifestyle, diet, economic and socio-economic status of people to see what the main issues are in incidence and mortality rates for a range of cancers.

Dr Helen Whippy, from Guam's Cancer Research Centre, says for breast cancer on Guam, current statistics shows women are dying from breast cancer at 1-point-5 times the rate on the U.S. mainland and solutions have to be found

"We have some hypothesis why that might be so. Not only the lack of care that's currently on the island but also there may be other factors, cultural factors, dietary factors, anything that we can look at to find out what the factors are. So we are going to eventually have a risk factor within the next couple of years. At that point we'll be able to design an intervention of some type that hopefully should have an effect on the quality of life for women on the island of Guam."

Dr Helen Whippy says they are also studying ethnicities like Asians to find out why they seem to have low incidences of breast cancer in comparison to Pacific island populations.