Cancer Causes & Control

, 20:345 | Cite as

Soil zinc content, groundwater usage, and prostate cancer incidence in South Carolina

  • Sara E. Wagner
  • James B. Burch
  • Jim Hussey
  • Tom Temples
  • Susan Bolick-Aldrich
  • Catishia Mosley-Broughton
  • Yuan Liu
  • James R. Hebert
Original Paper



Prostate cancer (PrCA) incidence in South Carolina (SC) exceeds the national average, particularly among African Americans (AAs). Though data are limited, low environmental zinc exposures and down-regulation of prostatic zinc transporter proteins among AAs may explain, in part, the racial PrCA disparity.


Age-adjusted PrCA rates were calculated by census tract. Demographic data were obtained from the 1990 census. Hazardous waste site locations and soil zinc concentrations were obtained from existing federal and state databases. A geographic information system and Poisson regression were used to test the hypothesis that census tracts with reduced soil zinc concentrations, elevated groundwater use, or more agricultural or hazardous waste sites had elevated PrCA risks.


Census tracts with high groundwater use and low zinc concentrations had higher PrCA rate ratios (RR: 1.270; 95% confidence interval: 1.079, 1.505). This effect was not more apparent in areas populated primarily by AAs.


Increased PrCA rates were associated with reduced soil zinc concentrations and elevated groundwater use, although this observation is not likely to contribute to SC’s racial PrCA disparity. Statewide mapping and statistical modeling of relationships between environmental factors, demographics, and cancer incidence can be used to screen hypotheses focusing on novel PrCA risk factors.


South Carolina Cancer statistics Race Geographic information systems Disparities 



Prostate cancer


South Carolina






Prostate-specific antigen


Geographic information system


Rate ratio


South Carolina Central Cancer Registry


Department of Health and Environmental Control


United States Geological Survey


Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act


Environmental Protection Agency


Parts per million


Inductively coupled plasma


Standardized incidence ratio


Confidence interval


Conditional autoregressive


Markov chain Monte Carlo



Research Career Development Award, Department of Veteran’s Affairs VISN-7, Charleston, South Carolina to J. B. B.; National Cancer Institute, Community Networks Program (1 U01 CA114601-01 to J. R. H.).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara E. Wagner
    • 1
    • 2
  • James B. Burch
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jim Hussey
    • 2
  • Tom Temples
    • 3
  • Susan Bolick-Aldrich
    • 4
  • Catishia Mosley-Broughton
    • 4
  • Yuan Liu
    • 2
  • James R. Hebert
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Cancer Prevention and Control ProgramUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Arnold School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.Advanced Environmental Solutions, LLCLexingtonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Health and Environmental ControlSouth Carolina Central Cancer RegistryColumbiaUSA

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