represent the foundations of cancer control research. Its Epidemiology and Genetics Program has studied the following:

  • Interactions of genetic and metabolic factors with lifestyle, social and behavioral factors, diet and nutrition, hormones, and medications.
  • Gene prevalence-associated metabolic markers and predictive value of identified genes and markers.
  • Definitions of ethnicity using molecular genetics and; application of these definitions, as well as data on behavior and lifestyle choices, to studies of the effects of migration on the incidence of cancers.
  • The genetic determinants, tumor markers, and cancer risk from immune function.
  • Special populations with different patterns of cancer risk.
  • Means of improving estimate of exposures by direct and indirect means.
Studies of Human Behavior

NCI research in the area of human behavior has not been strong in the past, but an expanded behavioral research program is planned in DCCPS, according to NCI officials (Barbara Rimer, National Cancer Institute, communication with the study committee, June 12, 1998). This program will place greater emphasis on the development of balanced behavioral research portfolios that include a range of research in all areas, spanning basic research, dissemination research, and policy development.

The literature from anthropology, psychology, sociology, behavioral medicine, and public health has shown that different ethnic groups vary in their attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors toward health. As noted earlier, macro-ethnic groups, such as Asian Americans, include many sub-groups, such as Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, and Vietnamese Americans, to name only a few. For each ethnic group, culture influences their health, their attitudes toward health, and their health practices, although individual beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors may vary. Another factor is acculturation, the degree to which immigrants leave behind a culture of origin and assimilate aspects of their new culture. Some health behaviors may change within a few years of taking up residence in the U.S., while others may persist for generations. For example, newly arrived Mexican women are less likely to smoke than women of Mexican origin raised in the U.S. In addition, a study on Pap smear and mammogram screening in Mexican-American women found that the prevalence of these screenings increased with acculturation (Suarez, 1994). Given the diversity of health practices even within one ethnic group, it is essential to obtain accurate



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