Diet and Cancer in Puerto Rican Men

Title: Diet and Cancer in Puerto Rican Men

Principal Investigator: Jo Freudenheim, PhD

Funding Agency: NIH/NCI

Period: 09/01/03 - 08/30/07

Abstract: This is a small grant to study prospectively diet and prostate cancer among Puerto Rican men who took part in the Puerto Rico Heart Health Program (PRHHP). Few studies have been able to study the relationship of diet with prostate cancer mortality longitudinally among Hispanics or any other minority group in the United States. Although cancer mortality rates have decreased in the past 20 years in the general population, it has increased in the Hispanic population. Cancer mortality rates among Hispanics are lower than those observed among non-Hispanic whites; however, for Puerto Ricans both in the United States and in Puerto Rico, cancer mortality rates are greater than those observed for all Hispanics combined. Moreover, the number one cancer killer among Puerto Rican men is prostate cancer, not lung cancer. The reason for this inter- and intra-ethnic variation in cancer rates remains unclear. Established and emerging risk factors associated with prostate cancer include age, race, diet, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, alcohol intake and sexually transmitted diseases, among others. The PRHHP collected information on these risk factors during four examinations between 1964 and 1980 with enormous potential for increasing our understanding of the etiology of this disease in US minority population.

Most of the published information on legumes and prostate cancer are based on findings from soy legumes with limited applicability to the US diet, since non-soy legumes are the most commonly eaten type of legumes in the Western diet. We found only one published epidemiological study that examined the relationship of non-soy legumes with prostate cancer. Consumption per capita of legumes in Puerto Rico is double that of the US. The specific aim of this small grant is to examine the relationship of dietary consumption of non-soy legumes with prostate cancer mortality in Puerto Rican men.

For this grant we are ascertaining and characterizing prostate cancer mortality in the cohort of men from the PRHHP using information from the Puerto Rico Demographic Registry, Puerto Rico Cancer Registry and the National Death Index Plus. This proposal is innovative because (a) it takes advantage of an established cohort to investigate cancer mortality in an under-studied Hispanic subgroup with higher cancer mortality rates than other Hispanic subgroups; (b) has the potential to study other exposures such as skin color, sexually transmitted disease, alcohol, smoking and other emerging risk factors with prostate and other cancers; and (c) will contribute new knowledge regarding the relationship between intake of non-soy legumes and prostate cancer mortality.

The PI for this grant was Carlos Crespo who left the department 9/05. Jo Freudenheim took over as PI for the final years of the grant.