The published studies of cancer of United States Jews are reviewed. Despite the lack of religious designation on death certificates, case reports, and census returns, a number of indirect methods for measuring the problem have been devised, which produce fairly consistent findings. In general, for American Jews, these show deficits in cancer mortality, among males, for the buccal cavity and pharynx and prostate and, among females, for the breast, uterine cervix and corpus, and bladder. Excesses in mortality, noted for both sexes, are esophagus, stomach, colon, pancreas, lymphomas, and leukemia and, in females, the lung and the ovary.

The standardized mortality ratios for cancer of selected sites for Russian-born residents of upstate New York, 1969 through 1971, are presented as an indirect measure of the problem in the United States Jews. Statistically significant excesses were found in males for stomach and colon, with a striking deficit in cancer of the buccal cavity and pharynx. Among females, excesses were noted for stomach, pancreas, and lung with a sharp deficit in the uterine cervix.

On the basis of the religious affiliation of the cemetery of burial, estimates of the Jewish and non-Jewish components of the 800 deaths in Russian-born residents were determined. Expected deaths in these two subgroups by sex, for each cancer site, were then calculated by use of the site-specific proportionate mortality of upstate New York for these years. This revealed a significant excess among Jewish males for colon cancer, with a deficit in lung cancer, while among the non-Jewish male components stomach cancer mortality was the only site significantly in excess. Among Jewish females, stomach and lung cancers were in excess, with a deficit in cancers of the breast and cervix uteri. In non-Jewish Russian-born females, the only site significantly in excess was stomach, with breast cancer showing a deficit.


Presented at the Conference on Nutrition in the Causation of Cancer, May 19 to 22, 1975, Key Biscayne, Fla. This study was supported in part by Grant CA 12707 from the National Cancer Institute.

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