Distribution of Risk Factors Helps Explain Ethnic Differences in Breast Cancer Rates
Differences in breast cancer rates between racial and ethnic groups can be largely explained by the distribution of risk factors, except in African-American women, according to a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Women in ethnic and racial minority groups have lower breast cancer incidence than white women. However, among women with breast cancer, African-American women are diagnosed at a more advanced stage, have larger tumors, and are more likely to have estrogen receptor-negative disease than white women. Breast cancer mortality is also higher among African-American women than in white women. However, all these differences have remained largely unexplained.
Rowan T. Chlebowski, M.D., Ph.D., of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute in Torrance, Calif., and colleagues examined racial and ethnic differences in breast cancer incidence and outcome in more than 150,000 women participating in the Women's Health Initiative. They found that the lower incidence of breast cancer in Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Native American women was mostly explained by differences in the distribution of breast cancer risk factors, such as age, family history, reproductive history, education level, and alcohol consumption.
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