The University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health announced Friday that it has received nearly $21 million in grants since July 1. Dr. Tom Chandler, Dean of the Arnold School, says the grants target many of the most pressing health problems facing our society today, including childhood obesity, hiv/aids and cancer disparities.
Dr. James Hebert of the Arnold School works with the South Carolina Cancer Disparities Network that focuses on efforts to reduce cancer rates among African Americans in South Carolina. Hebert says South Carolina’s Network is among the best in the nation.
Hebert says the $4.3 million grant award to support efforts to end cancer disparities will help build on the network’s many successes in its research, intervention and outreach programs. Hebert says cancer is foremost a disease that is genetic in origin. However, there are other factors, like diet and access to health care, which affect both the onset and severity of the disease in many cases.
Hebert says in researching cancer disparities it is important to observe and analyze the disease as it affects like populations in different parts of the world. Hebert says comparing African Americans with the people in a distinct region of Africa has uncovered a startling observation.
Hebert says one of the unique disparities is in the area of breast cancer where African Americans in the U.S. have lower rates of breast cancer than Caucasian women. However, mortality rates are higher among African American women. Hebert says it goes back to genetics and environment.
Hebert says research has shown that the most severe disparity of cancer occurrence in the African American community occurs in the number of cases of cancer of the esophagus.