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Are Second- and Third-Generation U.S. Residents of Mexican Descent at Higher Risk for Liver Cancer?

By: Anna Fanelli
Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2022

A study presented at the 2022 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved (Abstract C110) showed the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma in individuals of Mexican descent living in Los Angeles increased with each successive generation in the United States. In fact, second- and third-generation individuals living in Los Angeles had 35% and 61% higher risk, respectively, than those born in Mexico.

“Epidemiologic trends show rising incidence of liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer in [Hispanics/Latinos] for both men and women, whereas we are seeing a decline for many other cancer sites,” said Nicholas Acuna, MPH, of the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, in an AACR press release.

The analysis focused on self-identified Mexican individuals for whom information on parental birthplace was available. Researchers assessed the liver cancer risk after adjusting for age, sex, body mass index, smoking status, alcohol intake, history of diabetes, and daily coffee consumption. After an average follow-up of 23.4 years, among 32,239 individuals of Mexican descent, there were 220 cases of liver cancer.

This study revealed an increase in the age-adjusted hepatocellular carcinoma incidence rates per 100,000 people with each successive generation, from 20.9 cases among first-generation individuals, to 27.5 among second-generation individuals, to 34.7 among third-generation individuals. The researchers also found that third-generation individuals who did not have diabetes had a much higher (82%) risk of liver cancer than first-generation individuals who did not have diabetes.

However, limitations in this study included it did not take into consideration the different etiologies of liver cancer. In addition, the researchers exclusively focused on participants of Mexican descent, who represent the largest Latin American subgroup in the multiethnic cohort. Therefore, the study findings cannot be generalized to other Latin American subgroups, and further studies are needed to confirm these findings.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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