African-American men lead in prostate cancer

“Foreign born black men are expected to have a 7.8 percent longer life expectancy than native born,” said University of Florida Professor of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy Folakemi T. Odedima, Ph.D.

With a 54.5 percent mortality rate, African American men lead in the number of cases in prostate cancer. 

FAMU’s Department of Social Work Associate Professor and Chair, Merlin R. Langley, Ph.D. said there are two reasons why African American men do not get prostate exams.

“One, African American men don’t know much about prostate cancer or the prostate as a gland,” said Langley. “The second one is that they perceive the procedure for screening, which is a blood test, and the other is a digital rectal exam, where the physician inserts his or her digit or finger in a glove up their rectum. They perceive that to be intrusive.”

Odedima said the judgments that are made about people never stop.   One of the errors we make as a researcher is when starting with blacks we think of black as being one thing.

“They are doing a phenomenal job at looking at Hispanics as different,” Odedima said. “When you talk about Latinos, you are talking about Mexicans, you are talking about Cubans, you are talking about Puerto Ricans and they are studying them and studying their disparities and are able to address them.”

Many factors, such as age, race, diet, family history and genes play an important factor in new developing cases.

“Another important factor is what we eat and how we act,” Odedima said. “Blacks from other countries eat more vegetables, they eat more fruits and they eat less meat.  If you look at the portion of meat that an African American male eats and the portion an African eats, it’s very different.”

Those whose parents are from other countries are not considered African Americans in this study because they pass down the traditions of their culture to their children.

“The best teachers are our peers,” said UF Foundation Research Professor Carolyn Tucker, Ph.D. “Everything we do is often family oriented.”

Tucker said to encourage healthier lifestyles, UF’s Health-Smart Behavioral Program for Public Health is to help associate in engaging help promoting behavior as health smart behavior.

“We also want to help prevent cancer, diabetes and heart disease by getting people engaging in health promoting behavior,” Tucker said.

To encourage families to promote healthier lifestyles, Tucker said the program uses an approach to help families take charge of their lifestyles as much as possible. The theory understands there are biological factors, environmental factors, and economical factors that influences people’s lifestyles.