Cancer 'hot spots' in Florida may be associated with hazardous waste sites

March 6, 2017, University of Missouri-Columbia

Studies have shown that hazardous waste sites have the potential to adversely affect human health and disrupt ecological systems. Florida has the sixth highest number of hazardous waste sites, known as Superfund sites, in the United States. In 2016, the state was projected to have the second largest number of new cancer cases in the country. Researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine and the University of Florida studied cancer incidence rates in relation to Superfund sites and found a possible association. Researchers believe this discovery could help direct public health efforts in the state.

"We reviewed adult cancer rates in Florida from 1986 to 2010," said Emily Leary, Ph.D., assistant professor at the MU School of Medicine and co-author of the study. "Our goal was to determine if there were differences or associations regarding cancer incidence in counties that contain Superfund sites compared to counties that do not. We found the rate of cancer incidence increased by more than 6 percent in counties with Superfund sites."

Florida is home to 77 sites that currently are or have been classified as Superfund sites by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Using data collected by the Florida Department of Health, the researchers looked for cancer clusters, or "," of cases that were higher than normal. Because pediatric cancers often are genetic and not attributed to environmental factors, only adult cancers were included in the study. The researchers did not distinguish between different types of cancer.

"The findings show spatial differences—as well as gender differences—across Florida in adult cancer incidences," Leary said. "This work is novel because it is another piece of evidence to support an environmental cause of cancer. While it would be premature to say these differences are attributed to Superfund sites, there does appear to be an association. More research is needed to determine what this relationship is and why it exists, but identifying that a difference exists is a necessary first step."

"Our results can help public health agencies adjust policies and dedicate more efforts to areas with cancer hot spots," said Alexander Kirpich, Ph.D., postdoctoral associate at the University of Florida and co-author of the study. "These results support the link between toxic environmental waste and adverse health outcomes, but more efforts are needed to better understand this link and what it means for residents in these counties."

The study, "Superfund Locations and Potential Associations with Cancer Incidence in Florida," recently was published online in Statistics and Public Policy. Research reported in this publication was supported by the University of Florida and the University of Missouri School of Medicine. The researchers have no conflicts of interest to declare related to this study. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agency.

Explore further: Hispanic cancer mortality varies among ethnic groups

Related Stories

Hispanic cancer mortality varies among ethnic groups

February 21, 2017
Cancer mortality rates vary considerably within the growing Hispanic population in the United States, with significant differences among the major Hispanic ethnic groups.

New study finds where you live may determine likelihood of dying from cancer

January 24, 2017
The rate at which Americans die from cancers varies dramatically by where they live, according to a new scientific analysis.

U.S. cancer death rate declines, but work is needed to address local disparities

January 26, 2017
While a new study has shown a marked decline in the cancer mortality rates across the United States, University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers have called for tailored, local-level cancer ...

Cancer death rate has dropped 25 percent since 1991 peak

January 5, 2017
A steady decline over more than two decades has resulted in a 25% drop in the overall cancer death rate in the United States. The drop equates to 2.1 million fewer cancer deaths between 1991 and 2014.

CDC releases estimates of cancer incidence, survival for 2011

March 16, 2015
(HealthDay)—Estimates of cancer incidence for 2011 in the United States show that about two-thirds of those with cancer survive five or more years after diagnosis, according to a report published in the March 13 issue of ...

Recommended for you

New breath and urine tests detect early breast cancer more accurately

April 25, 2018
A new method for early and accurate breast cancer screening has been developed by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka University Medical Center, using commercially available technology.

Do prostate cancer cells have an Achilles' heel?

April 25, 2018
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago describe new ways to selectively kill prostate cancer cells by exploiting the cells' revved-up metabolism. They report their findings in the online journal, eLife.

Research shows possible new target for immunotherapy for solid tumors

April 24, 2018
Research from the University of Cincinnati (UC) reveals a potential new target to help T cells (white blood cells) infiltrate certain solid tumors.

Changes in breast tissue increase cancer risk for older women

April 24, 2018
Researchers in Norway, Switzerland, and the United States have identified age-related differences in breast tissue that contribute to older women's increased risk of developing breast cancer. The findings, published April ...

Targeting molecules called miR-200s and ADAR2 could prevent tumor metastasis in patients with colorectal cancer

April 24, 2018
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide and the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths. The main cause of death in patients with colorectal cancer is liver metastasis, with nearly 70% of patients ...

Experimental arthritis drug prevents stem cell transplant complication

April 24, 2018
An investigational drug in clinical trials for rheumatoid arthritis prevents a common, life-threatening side effect of stem cell transplants, new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis shows. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.