Cancer Rates Rise Among Turks in Germany

Cancer rates increasing in Germany's Turkish immigrants

BERLIN (Reuters Health)

Turkish people living in Germany are less likely to die of cancer than Germans in general, but cancer rates in this population are catching up, a cancer charity reports.

The study, the first to examine cancer rates among the immigrant Turkish population in Germany, was conducted for German Cancer Aid and will soon be published in the European Journal of Cancer.

Cancer deaths are less common among the 2.1 million Turkish people living in Germany, write Dr. H. Zeeb and colleagues from Bielefeld and Heidelberg Universities as well as from the cancer registry of Saarland. But as the immigrant population ages--already having reached third German-born generation since initial mass immigration in the 1960s--its cancer profile is changing to match that of native Germans.

The researchers took information from the Saarland state cancer registry between 1970 and 1998 and concluded that the total cancer rate among Turks rose slightly between 1980 and 1997 while in the same time period, the rate among Germans dropped slightly.

"Turkish men seemed not to participate in the substantial decline in mortality from stomach cancer observed among the German men," write the study team. "Conversely, stomach cancer rates among Turkish men increased (albeit non-significantly) over the same time periods. Similarly lung cancer mortality increased among Turkish men, while it declined among German men."

An increasing number of Turkish women died from breast cancer, in contrast to the stable but markedly higher rates among German women. And lung cancer mortality is increasing both among German and Turkish women but more markedly among the latter, due to increases in smoking.

Broadly it seems that the population is increasingly integrating--to the extent that traditional diets and lifestyles are being abandoned in favour of 'industrialised' habits, along with the accompanying cancers, Dr. Zeeb and colleagues report.

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