NIMHD Presents at the Inaugural Howard University Health Disparities Research Summit
“There are a host of health disparities that affect people in this country, and if we are not intent on finding solutions, then who will?” began Dr. Anthony K. Wutoh, provost and chief academic officer of Howard University, as the inaugural Health Disparities Research Summit opened on Friday, April 7, 2017.
Dr. Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), gave the keynote address, “Tobacco-Related Disparities in Racial and Ethnic Minorities.” His presentation highlighted the fact that although minorities smoke at lower rates and less intensely, some groups are more likley to develop smoking-related disease, such as lung cancer, than non-Latino Whites.1
“African Americans have a higher rate of lung cancer for the same amount of daily smoking,” said Dr. Pérez-Stable. “One hypothesis is because 80 percent of African Americans smoke menthol cigarettes, compared to 30 percent of Whites, but the data are not convincing. Our own research implied metabolism differences leading to greater intake of nicotine per cigarette among African Americans compared to Whites, Latinos or Chinese smokers.” 2
He explained that studies show smoking mentholated cigarettes may be associated with promoting smoking initiation behaviors among adolescents and young adults and there are indicators of greater level of dependence among people who smoke mentholated.3
Dr. Pérez-Stable also discussed how health disparities research now looks beyond behavior to include other determinants of health. “Thirty-five years ago, when I started on this journey, the sciences were completely parallel and did not intertwine with each other. Now such areas as environmental conditions, place, adverse childhood experiences, and food insecurity—they all influence a person’s health.”
According to Dr. Pérez-Stable, lung cancer remains one of the most under supported cancers in terms of research and funding, although the disparities remain.
“We’re not done, but we’ve certainly made huge improvements over the last 30 years in tobacco studies. Now we are really looking forward to advancing this field with your help as scientists,” Dr. Pérez-Stable said in closing.
From Dr. Pérez-Stable’s call urging more minority scientists into the field of tobacco studies, to resources provided to support minority health investigators, Summit participants heard a presentation focused on NIMHD funding and training opportunities given by NIMHD program director Dr. Derrick Tabor.
Dr. Tabor offered an informative session on funding and resources for minority health and health disparities researchers. Summit evaluators described his session as being “undoubtedly one of the best resource sessions of the Summit.”
“The point of my presentation was to bring attention to some of the new and underutilized resources NIMHD has for researchers, with an emphasis on NIMHD program officials being the best possible human resources for those looking to attain a grant,” said Dr. Tabor.
Dr. Tabor stated that outreach such as this, at the university level, allows NIMHD to engage with the research community as well as learn about researchers’ interests and needs.
- Trinidad, D. R., Pérez-Stable, E. J., Messer, K., White, M. M., & Pierce, J. P. (2010). Menthol cigarettes and smoking cessation among racial/ethnic groups in the United States. Addiction, 105: 84–94. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010. 03187.x.
- Pérez-Stable EJ, Benowitz NL, Herrera B, Jacob P. Nicotine metabolism and intake in black and white smokers. JAMA 1998; 280:152-156.
- Soulakova, J. N., & Danczak, R. R. (2017). Impact of menthol smoking on nicotine dependence for diverse racial/ethnic groups of daily smokers. Healthcare, 5(1): 2. doi: 10.3390/healthcare5010002.
Posted June 9, 2017