The American Cancer Society releases a report every three years detailing statistics for cancer in the Latino population. The detailed summary reflects the number of cases and factors that put individuals at risk, as well as, information on screening for those residing in the U.S. and its territories including Puerto Rico. Reportedly, cancer accounts for 21% of deaths in Latinos. The population is said to be at higher risk for cervical, liver, and stomach cancers as opposed to Non-Latino Whites with the latter two being the most threatening among the numbers. These findings are a cause for concern, as both cancers are particularly lethal for the men.
What is notably interesting about these numbers? Researchers are beginning to look at trends in the mortality rates. The issue with a theory that all Latinos can be bunched up into one group study is the part that can be somewhat misleading, possibly resulting in inaccurate results. The Latino population is made up of a large number of ethnicities that are set apart by culture, education, habits, and lifestyles. Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans, South American, to name a few, share commonality but have different shades of experiences. These factors can play an important role in whether or not individuals have a chance at beating cancer.
There are different variants that could possibly increase the chances of overcoming the illness. The access to good medical care, vaccines, early screening, how people practice self-care should be included as part of the overall health picture. There is a lot to be said for the various dietary habits one group might have over another creating an x-factor that cannot be ignored.
I recall, growing up my mother made the decision to change some of the traditional ingredients in old family recipes to opt for healthier choices. In one example, she stopped the use of corn oil in the kitchen, replacing it with sunflower oil. She did so, believing it would be a good way to improve our good cholesterol. Her attempts to increase her family’s awareness and make a conscious effort to make improved food choices trained me to do the same as an adult. It is was a way of deviating from the norm of our Dominican roots where many foods are fried in heavy oils such as “tostones.” Plantains that are double fried then smothered in salt were a staple of the household. It was the beginning of a healthier lifestyle for us at home, and myself today.
Education in the various Latino communities could make a difference in the population’s efforts to take better care of our bodies, which may help lower the mortality rates in the future. In the meantime, researchers dumping everyone into one sampling without considering many key points that can change the health outcome seems slightly short-sighted. The research is limited, as the investigation of trends in cancer mortality rates of Latinos is relatively recent but a conversation has been initiated – at least, it is progress.