Special Exposure Groups

Within populations there are groups that have atypical dietary patterns which may provide valuable information in the probe for further information on the relationship of diet and cancer. These groups are called special-exposure groups and are often defined by ethnic or religious characteristics. In addition to offering many of the advantages of correlation studies, the number of alternative explanations for any observations may be reduced if the special-exposure group lives in the same area as the comparison group.

As a largely vegetarian group, the Seventh-Day Adventists have been used in studies of meat earing and cancer. Studies of these groups, however, are limited in the same ways that other ecological studies are limited. For example, although lower rates of colon cancer have been observed among Seventh-Day Adventists—supporting the hypothesis that meat is related to colon cancer—there are other lifestyle choices that characterize the group, such as low rates of tobacco use and alcohol intake, which could also modify their rates of colon cancer.

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