The University of Hawai ‘ i Cancer Center ’ s
Multiethnic Cohort ( MEC ) Study , the most extensive epidemiological study in the world , received a five-year renewal grant in 2022 from the National Cancer Institute ( NCI ) to continue addressing health disparities among various ethnic groups .
The MEC Study , continuously funded by the NCI for the past 29 years , follows a large sample of Hawai ‘ i and Los Angeles residents of five main ethnic groups : Japanese Americans , Native Hawaiians , African Americans , Latinos , and Whites . Researchers have been following the cohort members and examining whether those who develop cancer or other diseases differed in risk factors prior to being diagnosed .
This funding renewal allows the study of additional health conditions that are more common in Hawai ‘ i , such as visceral obesity and liver cancer . The renewal also includes further research in social determinants of health , health effects of climate change , and genetic risk prediction .
Over 900 published scientific articles
82 other universities use MEC data
Ronald Cambra , PhD , has been a part of the Hawai ‘ i cohort of the MEC Study since its inception . In 1993 , Dr . Cambra received a recruitment questionnaire in the mail and almost threw it away because , at the time , he had no friends or family who had been impacted by cancer . He did not think his involvement would make a difference . It wasn ’ t until his wife argued , “ If you do that , then everyone else has an excuse for not doing these things ,” then Dr . Cambra decided that his participation may have value . Today , Dr . Cambra cares for his wife who is battling skin cancer on the top of her head . He is proud to have made the decision to be a MEC Study participant and help be part of reducing the burden of cancer . “ Participation in this study is a very small investment of time for the amount of reward that comes out of it ,” said Dr . Cambra .
MEC Study findings and healthy lifestyle tips are regularly sent to participants . Due to abundant research on obesity , body composition , and nutrition , Dr . Cambra learned a lot about the dangers of carrying excess fat . Since learning this information , he implemented healthier lifestyle habits with help from the healthy recipes and exercise tips , and attributes his 30-pound weight loss to the MEC Study .
Because of Dr . Cambra ’ s positive experience with the MEC Study , he has volunteered to participate in several other UH Cancer Center research , which examined cognitive abilities , body composition , and liver cancer . Results from his participation in these studies were sent directly to his physician , which allowed Dr . Cambra to receive more comprehensive care .
67 % of surviving participants continue to fill out their questionnaires