Study Links Birthplace and Cancer Risk Among Hispanic All of Us Participants

Last Reviewed: November 8, 2022
Birthplace linked to cancer risk in Hispanic communities. Liver cancer rates were nearly twice as high for participants born outside the U.S. Reference: Yu et al. (2022). Prevalence of primary liver cancer is affected by place of birth in Hispanic people residing in the United States: All of Us Research Program report. The American Surgeon. Logo of the All of Us Research Program. Illustration of a globe showing the Western Hemisphere with location pins in both North and South America.

Key points

  • Birthplace is an important consideration for understanding cancer risk among Hispanic populations.
  • Hispanic participants born outside of the United States had higher rates of liver cancer than Hispanic participants born in the United States.
  • Social and economic differences between Hispanic participants born inside and outside of the United States may contribute to lower screening rates, poorer access to care, and higher cancer rates.

The Hispanic population is the second largest population in the United States. Cancer is the leading cause of death in this community worldwide. It is important to understand what contributes to this higher burden of disease. Then, we can better target cancer screening efforts and interventions for Hispanic communities. 

Researchers used All of Us data to study cancer risk in participants who self-report as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish. They found that birthplace may be an important risk factor for certain cancers. 

These findings were published in The American Surgeon in July 2022. 

Comparing Birthplace to Better Understand Cancer Risk 

Researchers used All of Us data from more than 60,000 Hispanic, Latino, and Spanish participants. About half were born in the United States, and about half were born outside the country. 

The study used data that participants shared on age, gender, education, income, and employment. It incorporated data on cancer risk factors, like smoking and alcohol use. It also included chronic medical conditions like diabetes and obesity. 

The researchers focused on stomach, cervical, and liver cancer. Hispanic communities have higher rates of these types of cancers. The research team found that: 

  • Liver cancer rates were nearly twice as high in Hispanic participants born outside the United States. 
  • U.S.-born Hispanic participants who had stomach, cervical, and liver cancers were younger than non-U.S.–born participants. 

Cancer risk is affected by many social, economic, and environmental factors. Hispanic participants born outside the United States reported lower rates of education, insurance, and employment. This can lead to low cancer screening rates, poor access to care, and delays in treatment. These factors likely add to higher rates of cancer in Hispanic participants born outside the United States. 

What’s Next 

The researchers plan to use genomic data from All of Us in their next study. This data will help answer questions about how genes, behavior, and environment can affect health outcomes. 

Studying these differences enables health care providers to better understand who is at risk for cancer. They can then help high-risk patients get the screenings and treatment they need. 

This study highlights the importance of diversity in health research within underrepresented groups. Including Hispanic, Latino, and Spanish people in research can help us better understand health disparities in these communities. 

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