October is also National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is a nasty disease to have and there are women of all races, who contact it. Unfortunately, the occurrences of Black women being diagnosed with and living with breast cancer has increased over the past year. Hence pointing out the increasing rates of Black women being diagnosed and living with breast cancer is necessary as well as finding ways to decrease the rates of breast cancer among Black women.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer found in women. Approximately, 3.1 million women have had a history of contacting breast cancer. Recently, incidents of breast cancer being diagnosed among Black American women has increased to the point that both White American and Black American women have as much a likely chance of contacting breast cancer. But Black American women are much more likely to die from breast cancer than White American women due to lack of the fact that many Black American women lack access to affordable healthcare, good doctors or don’t get regular check ups. Also Black women tend to be diagnosed at later stages of the development of breast cancer and less rates of survival at each stage of the disease. Higher incidents of breast cancer diagnoses among Black women in Southern states such as Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi. Unfortunately, Black women are 42% more likely to be die from the disease and be diagnosed at earlier ages.
Genetics play a role in this as well. Many women are genetically predisposed to contacting breast cancer due to having a family history of breast cancer among women in their family. Aggressive tumors such as triple negative breast cancer are also a sign of genetic predisposition. Such aggressive tumors are harder to treat with chemotherapy and much more likely to come back. Studies have shown that there were higher frequencies of young, Black women containing abnormal amounts of genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 in their bodies .
What are BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes?
BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are genes that repair cell damage and help tissue develop in the breasts properly. Every woman has such genes in their body but the abnormal growth of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes leads to an increased risk of contacting Ovarian cancer, contacting breast cancer and experience another bout of breast cancer. A study of Black women fifty years old and younger, who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, shows that 12.4% of these women have abnormal rates of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes in their bodies. More than 40% of the women from this study didn’t have a family history of women who contacted breast cancer before. This shows that having a family history of contacting breast cancer isn’t enough to determine the frequency that one Black woman will contact breast cancer in her lifetime.
What are the ways to prevent contacting breast cancer?
Believe it or not, exercising, losing weight, limiting alcohol intake to one drink a day and refraining from heavy smoking before first pregnancy decreases the risk of contacting breast cancer. It isn’t a given that doing all the things above means that you wouldn’t contact breast cancer but it lowers the risk. Attending regular check ups with the doctor, getting mammograms and detecting breast cancer in it’s earliest stages is another great way to prevent breast cancer from growing and consuming your life.
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of every woman to take care of herself and maintain a healthy diet. Preventing contacting diseases like breast cancer is a good start in ensuring a long and healthy life for all women particularly Black women. Hence the importance of keeping on top of one’s life and being healthy for your own progression in life.
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