Uptake of unhealthy behaviors does not fully explain the trend.
New research reveals that with each subsequent generation of Mexican Americans, the risk of developing liver cancer has climbed. Although Mexican Americans have experienced a growing trend in modifiable risk factors—such as increased alcohol consumption, higher smoking rates, and elevated body mass index—these factors alone do not entirely account for the increased risk of liver cancer as generations progress. The findings are published by Wiley online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.
US-born Latinos have a higher incidence of liver cancer than foreign-born Latinos, and a possible contributor may relate to the adoption of different lifestyle behaviors, cultural norms, and values in the United States. Assessing liver cancer rates in successive generations of Mexican Americans may help to determine whether this theory is potentially valid.
To investigate, a team led by V. Wendy Setiawan, PhD, of the University of Southern California, studied 31,337 self-reported Mexican Americans from the Multiethnic Cohort Study. A total of 213 new cases of liver cancer developed over an average follow-up of 19.5 years. After adjusting for lifestyle and neighborhood-level risk factors, second generation (US-born with one or two parents born in Mexico) and third generation (US-born with both parents born in the US) Mexican Americans had 37% and 66% higher risks of liver cancer, respectively, compared with first generation Mexican Americans, who were born in Mexico. The elevated risk associated with generational status was mostly observed in men.
“Liver cancer is becoming a growing concern among Latinos, underscoring the importance of comprehending the factors driving this trend. 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,” said Dr. Setiawan. “In the future, identifying the risk factors within this group may facilitate the discovery of the underlying causes behind these observations.”
“Increasing risk of hepatocellular carcinoma with successive generations in the United States among Mexican American adults: The Multiethnic Cohort.” Nicholas Acuna, Kali Zhou, Paulo S. Pinheiro, Iona Cheng, Salma Shariff‐Marco, Tiffany Lim, Lynne R. Wilkens, Christopher A. Haiman, Loïc Le Marchand, and Veronica Wendy Setiawan. CANCER; Published Online: November 20, 2023 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.35000).