Study Finds New York State Has Higher Incidence Rate for Most Prevalent Cancers

Apr 16, 2024 | News

Researchers, including PRI Epidemiology and Modeling Co-Lead Wan Yang, recently published an article in Scientific Reports entitled “Cancer incidence trends in New York State and associations with common population-level exposures 2010–2018: an ecological study.” Authors include Haokun Yuan, Rebecca D. Kehm, Josephine M. Daaboul, Susan E. Lloyd, Jasmine A. McDonald, Lina Mu, Parisa Tehranifar, Kai Zhang, Mary Beth Terry & Wan Yang.

The research article investigates the relationship between common environmental exposures and cancer development, particularly focusing on young adults in New York State (NYS) from 2010 to 2018. Here are some key findings:

  1. Comparison with National Rates: NYS showed higher incidence rates for most prevalent cancers compared to the national average, with significant increases noted among young adults aged 25–49 years for several cancers, including breast, colorectal, thyroid, kidney, renal pelvis, and leukemia.
  2. Association Analysis: The study analyzed associations between 31 exposures and 10 common cancers across different age groups and sexes. Environmental factors such as ambient air pollutants (ozone and PM2.5) showed positive associations with prostate cancer, female breast cancer, and melanoma of the skin across multiple population strata.
  3. Trends in Early-Onset Cancers: Joinpoint trend analysis revealed significant increases in early-onset cancers among 25–49 year-olds in NYS, including breast, corpus uteri, colorectal, thyroid, kidney, renal pelvis, and leukemia.
  4. Impact of Environmental Exposures: Models could better explain the variation in cancer incidence among 25–49 year-olds compared to older age groups, suggesting greater relative risk contributions of exogenous factors during earlier life. Air pollution, specifically PM2.5, showed consistent associations with various cancers, indicating its detrimental impact, especially on young adults.
  5. Other Risk Factors: Besides environmental exposures, lifestyle factors such as smoking and physical inactivity were positively associated with lung and thyroid cancers, respectively. Socioeconomic factors like poverty prevalence and healthcare access also played roles in cancer incidence rates.
  6. Strengths and Limitations: The study’s robust analysis of multiple risk factors, including race & SES, environmental exposures, lifestyles, healthcare access, and physical characteristics, provided comprehensive insights. However, the ecological study design limited causal inference, and data limitations hindered the examination of certain exposures and cancer types.

The findings underscore the importance of common environmental exposures in cancer development, particularly among young adults. Addressing key exposures, especially air pollution, during critical windows of susceptibility may aid in preventing early-onset cancers. The study emphasizes the need for further research and targeted interventions to reduce cancer incidence effectively. Read the full article at Nature.