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Mexican Americans Face Higher Odds for Liver Cancer With Each New Generation
  • Posted November 22, 2023

Mexican Americans Face Higher Odds for Liver Cancer With Each New Generation

The risk of developing liver cancer appears to be rising with each successive generation of Mexican-Americans, especially men, a new report finds.

“Liver cancer is becoming a growing concern among Latinos, underscoring the importance of comprehending the factors driving this trend," said study lead author V. Wendy Setiawan, of the University of Southern California.

According to the American Cancer Society, over 41,000 Americans will be diagnosed with liver cancer in 2023, and more than 29,000 will die of the disease. Liver cancer appears more frequently in men than women, and risk factors include chronic hepatitis infection, cirrhosis (scarring of liver tissue), heavy drinking, smoking, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The findings were published Nov. 20 in the journal Cancer. In their study, Setiawan and colleagues tracked the health of over 31,000 Mexican-Americans over the course of nearly 20 years. During that time, 213 new cases of liver cancer were reported.

Compared to first generation Mexican-Americans (born in Mexico), second-generation Mexican-Americans had a 37% higher odds for liver cancer, while third-generation Mexican-Americans had a 66% higher risk, the study found.

This steady increase in risk over generations was mostly observed among men, the team noted.

They note that, generally, Latinos born in the United States have a higher risk of developing liver cancer compared to foreign-born Latinos.

"A possible contributor may relate to the adoption of different lifestyle behaviors, cultural norms and values in the United States," according to a Cancer news release.

But while certain risk factors -- heavier drinking, smoking and rising obesity rates -- may play a role in liver cancer risks for Mexican-Americans, "these factors alone do not entirely account for the increased risk of liver cancer as generations progress," the news release said.

"Although we currently lack a precise understanding of why second- and third-generation Mexican Americans are at a heightened risk of liver cancer, we have highlighted the importance of prioritizing research on these populations,” Setiawan said.

More information

Find out more about liver cancer at the American Cancer Society.

SOURCE: Cancer, news release, Nov. 20, 2023

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