Three faculty members at SDSU’s School of Public Health have each received a $50,000 pilot project award under the SDSU HealthLINK Center. The SDSU HealthLINK Center is a cooperative agreement funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (Drs. Guadalupe X. Ayala & Kristen J. Wells, MPIs). The Center supports an Investigator Development Core that funds junior faculty members’ research projects with a goal of studying minority health and reducing health disparities. Read about Dr. Humberto Parada’s study in part three of SDSU’s HealthLINK Center series.
Dr. Humberto Parada Jr., who is also the Division Head of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at SDSU’s SPH, is investigating cancer among Hispanics/Latinos by building a cancer component into the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL). The HCHS/SOL Study is an ongoing prospective study of over 16,000 diverse Hispanic adults living in San Diego, California, Chicago, Illinois, Miami, Florida, and the Bronx, New York. Participants were recruited in 2008 and have been followed for different outcomes since their initial enrollment. HCHS/SOL was primarily funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to investigate cardiovascular disease and diabetes outcomes.
Dr. Parada’s project is building a component in the HCHS/SOL to study cancer by linking all HCHS/SOL participants to the state cancer registries of California, Illinois, Florida, and New York. This will enable Dr. Parada and his team to identify participants that have been diagnosed with cancer, as well as information on the types of cancer, dates of diagnosis, treatments, and outcomes that will serve as a resource to allow the team to examine cancer risk in this population. The HCHS/SOL is unique in that it captures information about Hispanic/Latino heritage instead of aggregating all Hispanics/Latinos into a single group and generating conclusions from that data. Dr. Parada and his team will be able to examine cancer risk among specific heritage groups, for example, Mexican-Americans, Cubans, and Puerto Ricans, which may be masked if all of these heritage groups were aggregated into a single group. Knowing this information will allow for the development of potential intervention strategies that might be appropriate for specific subgroups. For example, one risk factor that Dr. Parada and his team will examine is obesity. Hispanics have an alarmingly high prevalence of obesity, estimated at 39% in 2013-2016; however, estimates range from 27% for South American heritage men to 51% for Puerto Rican heritage women. This heterogeneity is important, but no study has quantified the contributions of differences in body fat, obesity, or other metabolic risk factors for cancer risk across Hispanic/Latino heritage groups.
This project also will allow the HCHS/SOL study to set up the infrastructure for collecting cancer data, and it will serve as a rich resource for students and others in order to understand what different factors drive cancer risk in these Hispanic/Latino subgroups.