Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Australian Vietnamese women’s generations study

University of Melbourne Professor

John Hopper

The incidence of breast cancer has historically been lower in Asian countries, but this is changing rapidly with economic development. It is changing more rapidly for Asian women living in developed countries.

We know this because the Multi Ethnic Cohort Study of the Japanese community living in Hawaii has shown that exposure to Western lifestyles had a substantial impact on breast cancer risk. Their breast cancer incidence has increased enormously in the last 50 years and is now at the same level as for the Caucasian population, especially for third and fourth generations of Japanese Americans.

Australia has a growing population of women and families of Vietnamese descent and, given global trends, their incidence of breast cancer is likely to increase rapidly in the next few generations.

This presents not only a major challenge for breast cancer control in Australia, but also an opportunity to study the causes of breast cancer, and in particular, to try to prevent an increase in this disease for Australia’s Vietnamese community. If we can do this, it would have profound implications for the enormous populations of Asian women living in developing and developed countries across the world.

The objective of this study is to establish a cohort of women and families of Vietnamese descent who have been living in Australia for different amounts of time to study the impact environmental factors, such as migration and acculturation, have on risk of developing breast cancer.

This project has the potential to put in place an early warning system and educational program about breast cancer and how to reduce risk and develop opportunities for early detection in this expanding migrant community.

University of Melbourne Professor

John Hopper