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Nihon Eiseigaku Zasshi. 1992 Oct;47(4):775-84.

[Human ecological and epidemiological studies of Japanese immigrants and their descendants in South America].

[Article in Japanese]

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Epidemiology Division, National Cancer Center Research Institute, Tokyo.


Over a million people of Japanese origin reside in South America. However, only a limited number of studies on their health status and lifestyle factors affecting it have been carried out. The author and his co-workers have been conducting a series of field surveys on the health situation and lifestyle factors in Japanese immigrants and their descendants in various areas of South America. The subjects of the first-phase study were residents in four agricultural settlements (colonies) in the suburbs of Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia. The levels of minerals and heavy metals in the hair were measured, and significant variations were found in several elements. These different levels were found to be regulated by the environmental level of their living place and by the dietary pattern. In the second-phase study, several health-related indicators such as blood pressure, anthropometric features, viral infection markers in sera, and dietary pattern were investigated in two group of immigrants, one from Okinawa and the other from the mainland of Japan, both living in Bolivia. Differences in health situation and lifestyle were identified between them. Traditional habits seen in their original places of residence in Japan still existed in their life in Bolivia, while the introduction of Bolivian lifestyle was prevalent among them. Although the number of Japanese residents in Brazil is largest in the world outside of Japan, little has been known about their health situation. The subjects of the third-phase study were Japanese Brazilians. A descriptive epidemiologic study was carried out, and the mortality and incidence of cancer were determined. Some changes in disease pattern were noted when compared with Japanese in Japan, but these changes were not as marked as in the case of Japanese in the U.S.. A cross-section study on the lifestyle factors of Japanese residents in São Paulo showed some differences in health-related indicators and dietary habits in comparison with Japanese living in five areas of Japan. Such differences were also found among Japanese in São Paulo according to the place of origin in Japan. These series of studies in Japanese immigrants in South America showed the importance of lifestyle factors, especially dietary habits, for the health situation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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