Public Health New Mexico
4:57 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Native American Cancer Rates Remain Static

A map of age-adjusted death rates for Native Americans in New Mexico, 2006-2010.
A map of age-adjusted death rates for Native Americans in New Mexico, 2006-2010.
Credit National Cancer Institute

New statistics released by the American Cancer Society show that nationally there's been a 20 percent decrease in risk of death from all cancers. For breast and colon cancer, that rate of decline is closer to 35 percent. However, in the Southwest, there's a slightly different picture.

"One thing that's unsettling is Native American death rates have basically remained static," says Otis Brawley, Chief Medical Officer for the American Cancer Society. "The combination of high-caloric intake, lack of physical activity, and obesity — those three factors — actually are the second leading cause of cancer in the United States, second only to tobacco usage, and that is a special problem in Native American population."

According to Brawley, the major Native American populations with cancer are currently located in New Mexico and Arizona. However, he adds that data is not available on other Native populations in other states.