by Kristen Pugh
She may have only recently arrived at City of Hope, but Kimlin Ashing-Giwa, Ph.D., already is taking her research findings to policymakers.
Ashing-Giwa, who directs City of Hope's new Center of Community Alliance for Research & Education (CCARE), told national leaders about alarming relationships between obesity and cancer in minority communities at a conference in Los Angeles on July 7.
The "Empowering Local Communities, Informing National Policymakers: A New Agenda to Address Health Disparities" community forum brought together community-based health organizations and members of Congress to discuss solutions to health disparities among ethnic minorities.
Ashing-Giwa told attendees that research shows obesity increases the risk of developing cancer of the colon, uterus, kidney, esophagus, pancreas, gallbladder, liver and stomach, as well as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and myeloma. Obesity also elevates risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women.
Factors for obesity — and resulting cancer risk — vary throughout ethnic groups. Genetic makeup, health discrimination, financial status, accepted cultural practices and personal behavior all may contribute to obesity, she noted.
Throughout the day, Ashing-Giwa spoke with Reps. Hilda Solis, Grace Napolitano and Lucille Roybal-Allard of California and Rep. John Conyers of Michigan about how CCARE intends to battle health disparities in cancer by providing health education in ethnic communities. The Coalition to Promote Minority Health, Community Health Councils Inc., AltaMed Health Services, El Proyecto del Barrio and Ovations (a UnitedHealth Group company) sponsored the forum.