Dr. Kolonel's research focuses on the understanding the striking variations in cancer incidence and survival that are observed among the several different ethnic populations in Hawai‘i.
The MEC Study was established to examine lifestyle risk factors, especially diet and nutrition, as well as genetic susceptibility (an inherited tendency to react more strongly to particular exposures) in relation to the causation of cancer.
Persons in the cohort who develop cancer are identified through cancer registries that have been established by state statute in Hawai‘i and California to monitor the progress of the disease and public health efforts to control it.
In addition to the baseline questionnaire, two other questionnaires were mailed to MEC participants to get additional information. A 4-page questionnaire was sent in 1999-2001 and another 26-page questionnaire was sent in 2003-2008.
Biological specimens (mainly blood and urine samples) were collected from selected members of the cohort, starting in 1996, but the main collection took place from 2001-2006. These specimens enable us to study dietary components measured in blood and urine in relation to cancer risk, and also the interaction between genetic susceptibility and diet. Biological specimens on more than 70,000 cohort participants are being stored in special low temperature freezers in Hawai‘i and California.