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News Release

August 3, 2017

SUMMER INTERNS CONDUCT CANCER RESEARCH IN HAWAI'I

HONOLULU – Nineteen high school and undergraduate students conducted cancer research at the University of Hawai'i Cancer Center during the 2017 summer.

"The internship program characterizes the community engagement that is very important to the UH Cancer Center. We are able to reach out to young students across the island and help them get exposed to new research advances and cutting edge biomedical research. These students will become a part of Hawai'i's science and technology workforce," said Dr. Randall Holcombe, UH Cancer Center director.

The interns were chosen through a highly competitive process from public and private schools across the state and the nation. Out of 74 total applications 19 students were selected with an average GPA of 3.77. The internship projects include focuses such as cancer prevention and control measures, cancer epidemiology, bioinformatics, and basic cancer biology.

The internship program provides valuable research experience, exposes young people to possible careers in the life sciences. Past program interns have gone on to earn advanced degrees from top universities before returning to work in Hawai'i as physicians or scientists.

The Cancer Center's program places interns under the guidance of faculty mentors, who help them gain research experience and complete an independent project. Interns also present their research findings to their peers and to Cancer Center faculty through a poster session. The students receive a stipend for their work, which takes place over a two-month span. More than half of the Center's summer interns were underrepresented minority students who are interested in pursuing careers in science.

A 2017 follow-up of 72 previous students showed:
  • 73 percent obtained an undergraduate degree in a science field,
  • 5 percent completed a medical degree,
  • 5 percent had finished graduate school education in a research-oriented field,
  • 34 percent are enrolled in an undergraduate science program,
  • 13 percent are enrolled in a Master's program and
  • 23 percent are enrolled in a Medical School.

Lauren Muraoka (Hanalani Schools) attending UH Mānoa
"As a cancer survivor, I grew up hearing and learning about cancer since before I can remember. I've gotten to meet a lot of other cancer patients, survivors, and families and anything that contributes to ending and lessening the burden they have to go through is something that I want to be a part of."

"I wanted to experience a research environment first-hand to get a better understanding of what actually happens when planning and executing research. I was also really interested in the fact that a lot of what the Cancer Center is doing is focused on the Pacific, so it's neat to see the community-focused aspect of research as well."

Phyllis Raquinio (Maui High School) attending UH Mānoa
"This internship means learning how cancer impacts people around the world and how other health- and non-health related issues play into cancer. It means learning new things about cancer that many people might not know and using that knowledge to fight back against cancer."

Jasmine Padamada (Kea'au High School) attending UH Mānoa
"I wanted to be a part of this internship mostly because I wanted to experience how research and medicine work together. I was also interested in applying the skills that I learned during my lab classes at UH Manoa. Ultimately, this internship is a great way for me to take in as much knowledge as I can while contributing to a new discovery."

Jommel Macaraeg (Waipahu High School)
"There are numerous individuals who are working around the clock to investigate cancer in terms of prevention, epidemiology, and biology. I want to be a part of these individuals who are trying to understand the mechanisms behind cancer and find a way to fight against it."

Dylan Combs (Punahou) attending Harvard
"I am interested in cancer research because I feel there is so much to be discovered, and even more to gain from these discoveries. It is an incredible opportunity to gain research skills and learn new concepts from not only faculty but also other other interns of unique backgrounds."

2017 Cancer Center Summer Interns

Two High School Students

Funding

Jommel Macaraeg (Waipahu High School)

CURE

Daven Ruggles (Kalaheo High School)

CURE

17 Undergraduate Students


Larissa Ault (Charter School of San Diego) attending UH Mānoa

CURE

Ivy Fernandes (Mid-Pacific Institute) attending Santa Clara University

CURE

Megan Ishii (Punahou) attending Scripps College

CURE

Jethro Macaraeg (Waipahu High School) attending Creighton

CURE

Jasmine Padamada (Kea'au High School) attending UH Mānoa

CURE

Phyllis Raquinio (Maui High School) attending UH Mānoa

CURE

Nicholas Siu-Li (Hawaii Baptist Academy) attending Santa Clara University

CURE

Makana Williams (Punahou) attending Yales

CURE

Casie Kubota (St. Andrews) attending UH Mānoa

Meiji

Victoria Mak (Punahou) attending Saint Louis University

Meiji

Lynn Nguyen (Punahou) attending UH Mānoa

Meiji

Mari Ogino (Pearl City) attending UH Mānoa

Meiji

Dylan Combs (Punahou) attending Harvard

Friends

Connor Goo (Punahou) attending USC

Friends

Nicholas Liu ('Iolani) attending University of British Columbia

Friends

Lauren Muraoka (Hanalani) attending UH Mānoa

Friends

Dabe Sobol (Punahou) attending UH Mānoa

Friends

The Center's internship program is supported in part by the National Cancer Institute Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) CURE Supplement, an endowment from the Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company, and the Friends of the UH Cancer Center.

For photos:
http://owl.li/k66230e9DQZ

The University of Hawai'i Cancer Center through its various activities, cancer trial patients and their guests, and other visitors adds more than $54 million to the O'ahu economy. It is one of only 69 research institutions designated by the National Cancer Institute. Affiliated with the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, the Center is dedicated to eliminating cancer through research, education, patient care and community outreach with an emphasis on the unique ethnic, cultural, and environmental characteristics of Hawai'i and the Pacific.
Learn more at www.uhcancercenter.org. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UHCancerCenter. Follow us on Twitter @UHCancerCenter.

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News Release

July 17, 2017

Teens and Young Adults Have Greater Risk of Smoking Tobacco Cigarettes if They Use E-cigarettes

HONOLULU – A comprehensive review of nine e-cigarette studies conducted across the United States indicated that teenagers and young adults who used e-cigarettes, but had never smoked tobacco cigarettes before, were more likely to smoke the "real" thing a year later.

  • Teens were more than three times more likely
  • Young adults were more than four times more likely

The review confirmed findings on e-cigarette use from Hawai'i
A 2015 UH Cancer Center study with Hawai'i high school students found that teens who used e-cigarettes, but had never smoked tobacco cigarettes, were more likely to start smoking tobacco cigarettes one year later.

The current report, published in JAMA Pediatrics, included research conducted by the director of the UH Cancer Center's Cancer Prevention in the Pacific Program, Thomas Wills, PhD, and six other collaborators; it showed that this same finding has now been confirmed in studies of adolescents and young adults in California, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, as well as in representative national samples of respondents all over the U.S. The report was the first ever to systematically review data from multiple observational studies, in order to obtain generalizable estimates of risk for cigarette smoking associated with e-cigarette use across a wide range of populations.

"There had been debate about whether research conducted with Hawai'i youth would be found in other places," said Dr. Wills. "There is now no doubt that Hawai'i teens are being affected by e-cigarettes just like young people elsewhere."

Rates of e-cigarette use are relatively high in Hawai'i
The most recent survey of Hawai'i youth, conducted in 2016 by the Hawai'i Department of Health, showed that 49 percent of high school students had used e-cigarettes and half of those students were regular users.

E-cigarette use related to asthma among Hawai'i teens
Dr. Wills noted, "Data from this survey not only shows that e-cigarette use is related to smoking, but also suggests that e-cigarette use is related to asthma above and beyond the effect of cigarette smoking (which also was related to asthma). So there may be health effects of e-cigarette use that have not been previously recognized. It is important for public health to do everything possible to discourage smoking because of its many adverse health effects."

Publication
JAMA Pediatrics: http://owl.li/yut830dcIVg
DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.1488
The publication research was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

The University of Hawai'i Cancer Center through its various activities, cancer trial patients and their guests, and other visitors adds more than $54 million to the O'ahu economy. It is one of only 69 research institutions designated by the National Cancer Institute. Affiliated with the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, the Center is dedicated to eliminating cancer through research, education, patient care and community outreach with an emphasis on the unique ethnic, cultural, and environmental characteristics of Hawai'i and the Pacific.
Learn more at www.uhcancercenter.org. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UHCancerCenter. Follow us on Twitter @UHCancerCenter.

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News Release

July 28, 2017

Study Shows High-Quality Diet Related to Lower Risk of Colorectal Cancer

HONOLULU – A high-quality diet was related to a lower risk of colorectal cancer as well as other chronic diseases by University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers using data from the Multiethnic Cohort (MEC) Study.

A high-quality diet was assessed by scores computed for four key diet quality indexes (DQIs), which measure compliance with dietary guidelines that have been issued to the United States population.

Dietary data scores consist of adequacy components

  • Foods to eat more of, such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes: higher score for higher intake and moderation components
  • Foods to eat less of, such as red and processed meat, alcohol, refined grains, sodium, and sugar-sweetened beverages (e.g., sodas): higher score for lower intake

The MEC is a prospective epidemiological study in which 215,000 residents of Hawai'i and Los Angeles, aged 45-75 at recruitment in 1993-1996, completed a questionnaire about their dietary habits. The participants are being followed for occurrence of cancer and other chronic diseases.

"After an average follow-up of 16 years, participants with the highest scores for the four indexes experienced a lower risk of colorectal cancer, compared with those with the lowest scores," said Dr. Song Yi Park, the lead author of the study.

The study also shows that improvement in diet quality between middle age and late adulthood was associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer in most racial/ethnic subgroups.

High-quality diet was related to a colorectal cancer risk reduction of:

  • 16 to 31 percent in men
  • 4 to 18 percent in women
  • 22 to 30 percent in Native Hawaiians
  • 6 to 24 percent in Japanese Americans
  • 17 to 31 percent in Whites

Colorectal cancer in Hawai'i

  • Colorectal cancer is the 3rd most frequently diagnosed cancer in Hawai'i
  • There are 722 new cases and 224 deaths annually.
  • Colorectal cancer mortality is highest among Native Hawaiians.

"The study is one of the first to investigate how overall diet quality is in relation to colorectal cancer risk. We are seeking to find the best approach to achieving a health promoting diet in Hawai'i and across the nation," said Dr. Loic Le Marchand, study lead and professor in the UH Cancer Center's Cancer Epidemiology Program.

The analysis was performed as part of the Dietary Patterns Methods Project, which is led and supported by the National Cancer Institute.

Publication
http://owl.li/lS5D30dypny

The University of Hawai'i Cancer Center through its various activities, cancer trial patients and their guests, and other visitors adds more than $54 million to the O'ahu economy. It is one of only 69 research institutions designated by the National Cancer Institute. Affiliated with the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, the Center is dedicated to eliminating cancer through research, education, patient care and community outreach with an emphasis on the unique ethnic, cultural, and environmental characteristics of Hawai'i and the Pacific.
Learn more at www.uhcancercenter.org. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UHCancerCenter. Follow us on Twitter @UHCancerCenter.

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News Release

May 23, 2017

UH CANCER CENTER PILOT STUDY TO IMPROVE COLON CANCER SCREENING AND PREVENTION FOR NATIVE HAWAIIAN MEN

HONOLULU – No Ke Ola Pono a Nā Kāne (for the good health of Hawaiian men) University of Hawai'i Cancer Center community-based project revealed its 2016-2017 findings in a report to the community. Partnered with Ke Ola Mamo (Oahu's Native Hawaiian Health Care System) and other community organizations the study uses small group community engagement with Hawaiian men to discuss health challenges and provide up-to-date health information.

The purpose of the Kāne Initiative is to look for ways to lower the high rates of illness and early death among Native Hawaiian men and their families statewide.

The UH Cancer Center study had more than 285 men statewide participate in the kūkākūkā sessions. These are small group sessions to talk about general health, colon, lung and oral cancers.

In Hawai'i overall cancer mortality rates are highest among Native Hawaiian men according to the UH Cancer Center's Hawai'i Tumor Registry. They also have one of the highest death rates from colon cancer of any ethnic group.

"The disparity exists because Native Hawaiian men are diagnosed at later stages compared to other groups. Research has demonstrated that community-based social networks may help Native Hawaiian men adopt healthy behaviors including colon cancer screenings," said Kevin Cassel, assistant professor in the UH Cancer Center's Cancer Prevention and Control Program.

The study expanded the use of peer-led, health-activated support groups using the Native Hawaiian traditional practice of the "hale mua" (men's house) to address health disparities among Hawaiian men (kāne). The study also included the use of Fecal Immunochemical Tests (FIT) a test to screen for early colon cancer.

"We are very proud of this project, it emphasizes the commitment the UH Cancer Center has to the Native Hawaiian community," said UH Cancer Center Director, Dr. Randall Holcombe.

Study highlights
  • 285 kāne attended at least one session
  • 256 (90 percent) kāne made a commitment to improve their health over the next year
  • 116 (90 percent) learned something about colon health
  • 37 (36 percent) had a colon screening in the past 2 years
  • 62 (48 percent) doctors had not suggested a colon test
FIT test
  • 102 were age eligible to take a FIT colon test (65 not screened)
  • ~ 50 (49 percent) took the test – with one positive results
  • 84 percent overall screening rate
Session highlights
  • 40 used tobacco, and of those 32 (80 percent) wanted to quit after the session
  • 90 percent liked talking about health with other kāne
  • 91 percent want to attend another health kūkākūkā<.
  • 52 average age of kāne attending sessions

The University of Hawai'i Cancer Center through its various activities, cancer trial patients and their guests, and other visitors adds more than $54 million to the O'ahu economy. It is one of only 69 research institutions designated by the National Cancer Institute. Affiliated with the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, the Center is dedicated to eliminating cancer through research, education, patient care and community outreach with an emphasis on the unique ethnic, cultural, and environmental characteristics of Hawai'i and the Pacific.
Learn more at www.uhcancercenter.org. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UHCancerCenter. Follow us on Twitter @UHCancerCenter.

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