Multiethnic/Minority Cohort Study of Diet and Cancer

Lead Contact and/or Principal Investigator (PI):

Funded Since: 1993
Funding Source: NCI Extramural Program (Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences; CA054281 and CA033619)
Year(s) of Enrollment: 1993-1996 for baseline questionnaire, 2001-2007 for biorepository
Study Website: Web Site Policy

The Multiethnic/Minority Cohort Study of Diet and Cancer (MEC) was established in Hawaii and Los Angeles in 1993-1996 to explore the relationship of diet and other lifestyle factors to cancer. The cohort is comprised of more than 215,000 men and women primarily of African-American, Japanese, Latino, Native Hawaiian, and Caucasian origin, and is unique among existing cohort studies in its ethnic diversity and representation of minority populations.

At entry to the cohort study, each participant completed a 26-page mail questionnaire that included an extensive quantitative diet history, as well as other demographic, medical, and lifestyle information. Multiple 24-hour diet recalls were collected on more than 2,000 of the participants in a calibration study designed to permit correction of nutrient intake estimates for measurement error.

During the grant period 1998-2003, a brief follow-up questionnaire to update selected dietary and non-dietary baseline information was completed by more than 80 percent of the participants. In 2003-2008, the full baseline dietary questionnaire was successfully readministered to more than half of the cohort. Between 2001 and 2007, blood and urine specimens were collected from approximately 67,000 participants to establish a prospective biorepository for the MEC. Together with previously collected blood specimens from cases of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer for genomic analyses, the biorepository contains biological samples on nearly 70,000 cohort members.

Out-migration rates from both Hawaii and California have remained low (< 5%), making possible the continued use of computer linkage with the NCI-funded population-based Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program registries in the two states to identify incident cases. By the end of 2010, the investigators project that more than 35,000 incident cases of cancer will have accrued in the cohort.

Publications from the MECExternal Web Site Policy currently number more than 140, and include analyses on dietary and other risk factors using questionnaire data, as well as analyses based on genomic and other biomarker assays using the biorepository. The distinguishing feature of the MEC is the ability to compare findings across ethnic groups and to explore the basis for ethnic disparities in cancer risk.