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Mexican Immigrants' Biological and Behavioral Cancer Risk Based on Stress

Mexican Immigrants' Biological and Behavioral Cancer Risk Based on Stress

This study will enroll 50 Mexican immigrants (ages 19-49) who reside in the Houston-area and seek to better understands how repeated or chronic stress of adverse childhood experiences, such as living in poverty, or ongoing adult experiences associated with minority stress, such as pressure to acculturate, can lead to dysregulation of biological systems and harmful health behaviors that ultimately increase cancer risk.


The specific aims of this project are to: 1) evaluate biological and behavioral cancer risk factors (i.e., proinflammatory cytokines, adiposity, alcoholism, risky sexual activity, lack of preventative cancer screenings) in adulthood in relation to the cumulative adversity that occurred in childhood; 2) evaluate cancer risk factors in adulthood in relation to minority stress; and 3) determine the extent to which cancer risk factors increase as a result of the additive effects of adverse childhood events and minority stress in adulthood.


This pilot project was initiated by an ESI at UH, Dr. Hernandez, who will be mentored by Dr. Zhao in the Department of Epidemiology at MDA. It will use MDA’s Mexican American cohort as a recruitment source and will integrate scholars from the Cancer Research Education Program into all aspects of the project. The target area of this study is congruent with the main objective of the UHAND partnership to affect health equity among racial/ethnic groups disproportionately affected by cancer disparities, given the study’s focus on better understanding how social determinants of health experienced over the life course ultimately affect Mexican immigrants’ potential susceptibility to disease.

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