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 kind of compound shows early promise against prostate cancer

October 23, 2018
A new type of molecule blocks the action of genes that drive the growth of therapy-resistant prostate cancer, a new study finds.

Marker found for condition that causes numerous tumors

October 23, 2018
UT Southwestern researchers have made a major advance in uncovering the biology of how thousands of disfiguring skin tumors occur in patients troubled by a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). This scientific ...

Urban and rural rates of childhood cancer survival the same, study finds

October 23, 2018
Childhood and adolescent cancer survival in the United States does not vary by rural/urban residence at the time of diagnosis, finds a new study from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

Pancreatic cancer genetic marker may predict outcomes with radiation therapy

October 22, 2018
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to treat and is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Now, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center—Jefferson Health and Lankenau Institute for Medical Research scientists find ...

RNA thought to spread cancer shows ability to suppress breast cancer metastasis

October 22, 2018
Researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have discovered that a form of RNA called metastasis-associated lung adenocarcinoma transcript 1 (MALAT1) appears to suppress breast cancer metastasis in mice, ...

Targeting a hunger hormone to treat obesity

October 22, 2018
About 64 per cent of Canadian adults are overweight or obese, according to Health Canada. That's a problem, because obesity promotes the emergence of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

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.