US Residents of Mexican Descent Show Higher Liver Cancer Risk in Successive Generations

According to new study results, second- and third-generation individuals living in Los Angeles, California, are 35% and 61% more likely to develop the disease, respectively.

The risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in people of Mexican descent living in Los Angeles, California, increased with each successive generation in the United States, according to study results targeting the 15 minority and medically underserved populations.

The results show that place of birth can affect cancer risk and that US-born Hispanics are at a higher risk of developing liver cancer than foreign-born Hispanics due to acculturation.

“Hispanics/Latinos represent one of the largest and fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States. Epidemiological trends show an increasing incidence of hepatic and intrahepatic bile duct cancer in this population in both males and females, while we are seeing a decline in many other cancer sites,” study lead author Nicholas Acuna, MPH, a PhD student in epidemiology in the Department of Population & Public Health Sciences at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, said in a statement.

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“It’s important to understand the reasons for these trends,” he said.

Investigators used the Multiracial Cohort, a large population-based prospective study of risk factors for cancer and other chronic diseases among more than 215,000 participants from 5 U.S. ethnic and racial groups in Los Angeles and Hawaii, and analyzed how generational status affected them impacted HCC risk in people of Mexican descent living in the city.

Additionally, the analysis focused on self-identified Mexicans who had available information about their parents’ birthplaces. Generational status was classified as first generation for those born in Mexico with both parents also born in Mexico. second generation for those born in the United States with at least one parent born in Mexico; and third generation for those who were born in the United States and both of whose parents were also born in the United States.

HCC risk was assessed after adjusting for age, alcohol and coffee consumption body mass index (BMI), diabetes history, gender, and smoking status.

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After the mean follow-up of 23.4 years, there were 220 cases of HCC in 32,239 people of Mexican descent. In addition, the study highlighted an increase in age-adjusted HCC incidence rates per 100,000 people with each successive generation, from 20.9 cases in first-generation individuals to 27.5 in second-generation individuals and 34.7 in third-generation individuals Generation.

Second- and third-generation individuals of Mexican descent had a significantly increased risk of HCC compared to their first-generation peers.

The successive generations also revealed that individuals of Mexican descent were more likely to be smokers, consumed more coffee, had an increased BMI, and had higher alcohol consumption.

The study authors also applied a statistical interaction test to assess whether the association between generational status and HCC risk differed according to alcohol consumption, BMI status, diabetes or smoking status, but found no significant differences, presumably because of the small number in HCC cases.

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Third-generation individuals without diabetes had a significantly higher risk of HCC than first-generation individuals without diabetes, suggesting that multiple risk factors play a role in determining increased HCC risk.

“Interventions that target acculturation and adoption of negative lifestyles, such as increased alcohol consumption, unhealthy diets, and cigarette smoking in US-born Mexicans, are needed to mitigate the increased risk of HCC in this population,” Acuna said.

Limitations of the study included failure to account for the diverse etiologies of HCC, such as alcoholic and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and viral hepatitis B and C. The researchers also only focused on individuals of Mexican ancestry, so the study results cannot be generalized to other Latino subgroups, and future studies are required.


US citizens of Mexican descent may be at higher risk of liver cancer with each succeeding generation. press release. AACR. September 16, 2022. Accessed September 16, 2022.

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