Male immigrants face U.S. prostate cancer risks

September 25, 2008

When men and women from India and Pakistan migrate to the United States, their disease profiles change, mirroring the American risk.

U.S. immigrants from India and Pakistan take on the habits of their adopted country, increasing their risks of prostate cancer, according to researchers at West Virginia University’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, Morgantown.

“Breast cancer and prostate cancer develop due to many reasons, but environmental factors and lifestyle play a major role in these cancers,” said research team leader Jame Abraham, MD. “When men and women from India and Pakistan migrate to the United States, their disease profiles change, mirroring the American risk.”

The study, published in Cancer (2008; 113:1423-30), is the first epidemiologic analysis of the Pakistani and Indian immigrant population. The authors looked at data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program, examining nearly 7,000 cases between 1988 and 2003. In India, the number one cancer among men is cancer of the mouth related to tobacco use, whereas in the immigrant population, the top male cancer is prostate cancer.

Immigrants have been shown to embrace the Western lifestyle of marrying later, having fewer children, getting less exercise, and adopting a diet higher in fat, alcohol, and meat, and lower infiber, researchers say. Immigrants from India and Pakistan make up about 1.5% of the U.S. population and experience a better survival rate from cancer compared with the non-Hispanic white U.S. population.