A new partnership between UC Davis Cancer Center and the California Tribal Epidemiology Center (CTEC) of the California Rural Indian Health Board will increase cancer outreach among American Indians. The partners plan to apply for grants to study American Indians residing in California, who have dealt with cancer. Their research will concentrate on early diagnosis, barriers to prevention and treatment, reported the Daily Democrat.
“Formalizing this partnership between the UC Davis Cancer Center and the California Tribal Epidemiology Center gives both organizations the opportunity to significantly reduce cancer health disparities among American Indians through collaborative education, research and training,” said Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater, director of the cancer center’s Outreach Research and Education Program, to the Daily Democrat.
They also plan to evaluate interventions to cancer risk factors and the often-linked issues of obesity and cancer—both highly prevalent among the American Indian population in California, said Thomas Kim, a physician and medical epidemiologist with the CTEC.
“As a former tribal clinical physician, I have seen these issues galvanize a community to engage preventive efforts, particularly in their concern for their children and for future generations,” Kim said to the Daily Democrat. “Difficult and complex problems such as these can only be addressed in creative collaborations and agreements such as this.”
They also hope to obtain research funds to investigate the relationship of historical trauma and American Indians’ mental and physical wellbeing.
“Historical trauma, described by Yellow Horse Brave Heart as the suffering of various oppressed aboriginal people, is an unexplored and potential component in understanding American Indian/Alaska Native cancer prevention, research and treatment practices,” said Rebecca Garrow, a research associate with the CTEC, to the Daily Democrat. “Historical trauma includes a legacy of numerous traumatic events over several generations, including colonialism, forced assimilation, boarding school, forced adoption programs, as well as racism, warfare, murder, and cultural genocide leading to the loss of traditional life-ways.”