About the Multiethnic Cohort (MEC) Study

The MEC is a large epidemiological study which follows over 215,000 residents of Hawaiʻi and Los Angeles for development of cancer and other chronic diseases. It includes men and women of five main ethnic groups: Japanese Americans, Native Hawaiians, African Americans, Latinos, and whites.

Our Mission

To understand factors responsible for the differences in cancer occurrence among ethnic/racial populations.
To make a significant contribution to the goal of correcting cancer health disparities and preventing cancer and other chronic diseases in all populations.

How the Cohort was Established

In 1993-1996, the Multiethnic Cohort (MEC) Study was established by Dr. Laurence Kolonel at the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center and Dr. Brian Henderson at the University of Southern California Norris Cancer Center.

Over 215,000 men and women (104,000 in HI and 112,000 in CA), aged 45 to 75 years, from five main ethnic/racial groups, who were residents of the State of Hawaiʻi and Los Angeles in 1993-1996, enrolled in the study by completing a comprehensive 26-page questionnaire. The questionnaire asked primarily about diet, vitamin supplements, medications, occupations, physical activity and family history of cancer. Follow-up questionnaires were sent every five years to update this information.

Biological specimens (mainly a blood and urine sample) were collected from more than 70,000 MEC members in 2001-2005. These specimens, stored in special low temperature freezers, enable us to measure components in blood and urine that may predict cancer.

Funding has continuously been provided for the MEC by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the federal agency responsible for cancer research in the U.S., and has been renewed until 2022 in recognition for the study’s exceptional contributions.