Background: The Amish have not been previously studied for cancer incidence, yet they have the potential to help in the understanding of its environmental and genetic contributions. The purpose of this study was to estimate the incidence of cancer among the largest Amish population.
Methods: Adults from randomly selected households were interviewed and a detailed cancer family history was taken. Using both the household interview data and a search of the Ohio cancer registry data, a total of 191 cancer cases were identified between the years 1996 and 2003.
Results: The age-adjusted cancer incidence rate for all cancers among the Amish adults was 60% of the age-adjusted adult rate in Ohio (389.5/10(5) vs. 646.9/10(5); p < 0.0001). The incidence rate for tobacco-related cancers in the Amish was 37% of the rate for Ohio adults (p < 0.0001). The incidence rate for non-tobacco-related cancers in the Amish was 72% of the age-adjusted adult rate in Ohio (p = 0.0001).
Conclusion: Cancer incidence is low in the Ohio Amish. These data strongly support reduction of cancer incidence by tobacco abstinence but cannot be explained solely on this basis. Understanding these contributions may help to identify additional important factors to target to reduce cancer among the non-Amish.