Examining Connection Between Cancer, Genetics

Armen Hareyan's picture

The Montana Cancer Institute Foundation and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Health Department are collaborating on a new program to determine whether American Indians possess certain genetic traits that could fight cancer or make them respond less effectively to cancer treatments, the Lake County Leader & Advertiser reports.

American Indians coming to Tribal Health for regular appointments will be able to donate blood to the research. Participants each will be given $10 for donating. MCIF President Pat Beatty said that the goal is to collect blood from 1,000 local American Indians. Researchers at the University of Rochester will examine the blood samples to look for nine specific genetic markers. Beatty said similar testing has been conducted among other populations. According to Beatty, "Nobody has ever studied this systematically in Native Americans."


Research among American Indians has been difficult because of a lack of research institutions in areas with large American Indian populations. In addition, American Indians are often resistant to "outsiders performing research experiments," the Leader & Advertiser reports. Beatty said, "Many Native Americans, for good reason, don't have a lot of trust in the medical system. So that means that it's almost impossible for some unknown research project to come out and do something like this." The research project is being run through Tribal Health to help gain participants' trust, the Leader & Advertiser reports (McBride, Lake County Leader & Advertiser, 2/7).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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