Main Scientific Contributions

The MEC is the most ethnically diverse cohort study in the world and has gained national and international recognition among biomedical scientists. MEC researchers have published more than 800 scientific journal articles in the areas of:

1Diet and cancer: Our findings have been used across the world to make recommendations about what constitutes a healthy diet to decrease one’s risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.

2Ethnic disparities in cancer rates and survival: The MEC has identified and highlighted differences existing across ethnic groups with regard to cancer risk, including the unexplained high breast cancer rates of Native Hawaiians, the high rates of colorectal cancer in Japanese Americans, and the higher lung cancer risk of African American and Native Hawaiian smokers, in addition to the higher cancer mortality in Native Hawaiians.

3Cancer susceptibility: Genome-wide association studies carried out in the MEC have led to the identification of DNA sequence differences in the ethnic groups that have an increased risk for cancer in those populations. This knowledge will help identifying individuals who would benefit from screening.

4Obesity and cancer: The MEC study found that ethnic groups have a propensity to deposit fat in different body areas when they gain weight. Specifically, Japanese, Native Hawaiians and Latinos store more fat intra-abdominally. This type of fat carries a greater risk for metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. A diet and lifestyle intervention is being developed to preferentially reduce intra-abdominal fat.

5Miscellaneous: Other scientific articles from MEC have focused on the role of alcohol, coffee, meat cooking methods, dietary supplements, physical activity, hormones, reproductive factors, inflammation, infections, metabolism, sleep, the built environment, air pollution, gut microbes and diabetes on the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.