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Prostate cancer skyrockets in Jamaica over quarter century

Published:Saturday | August 7, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Philip Hamilton, Gleaner Writer

A new study on prostate cancer among Caribbean men of African descent has revealed there was a 270 per cent increase in the disease among Jamaican men between 1983 and 2007.

The results of the study, which are published in a soon-to-be-released book by scientist Dr Henry Lowe, also showed there have been significant increases in the number of men in their 40s and 50s who have been diagnosed with the disease.

Lowe, who made the disclosure at a function on Thursday at Eden Gardens, said many myths about prostate cancer continued to be circulated by Jamaican men, several of whom felt it was better not to know if one was suffering from the disease.

"Even the educated men think so because they don't want to face the facts," Lowe told the audience.

"The fact is, it's never better not to know that you have a disease that is life threatening. Early detection and treatment may be the only way to save your life."

Lowe added that another myth currently being perpetuated by Caribbean people was that the high rate of prostate and breast cancer in Jamaica was caused from Jamaicans eating too much ackee.

He said research showed there was no proof ackee was responsible for causing prostate cancer, although this was likely attributed to its richness in certain fatty acids associated with a high risk of the disease.

Lowe was speaking at an awards ceremony for 25 students from the University of the West Indies and Shaw University in the United States who received prostate-cancer survey research training

The summer project, which is in its second year, forms part of a Minority Health International Research Training Programme aimed at training undergraduate students on prostate-cancer related topics.

The project also aims to facilitate research that will further eliminate racial health disparities in the area of prostate cancer among Jamaican men of African descent.

African-American and Jamaican men of African descent have the highest prostate-cancer incidence and mortality rates in the world.