Statistics of Black Women and Breast Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer became the leading cause of cancer death for Black women. Black and white women diagnosed with breast cancer are comparable, yet black women are dying at a higher rate compared to white women. Research shows that black people are more likely to die from most cancers and to live the shortest amount of time after a cancer diagnosis than any other racial/ethnic group.
Why is this?
Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. Due to history and social determinants of health, African Americans are disproportionately affected when it comes to medical conditions such as breast cancer.
Black women have inadequate access to healthcare, medical insurance, and healthy living options compared to white women. Black women also feel that their voices are not heard when it comes to their health.
Risks of breast cancer fall into 2 categories: non modifiable and modifiable risk factors. Non modifiable risk factors are factors one cannot change such as age, gender, genetics/family history, and ethnicity/race. Modifiable risk factors are factors you can change such as lifestyle changes (exercise, smoking, healthy eating habits, stress reduction techniques).
In an effort to reduce health disparities of breast cancer among black women, prevention is key. Women of color can practice the following to optimize one’s breast health.
1. Practice stress reduction techniques. Examples include: mediation, journaling, yoga, massage
2. Exercise at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes each session. Examples include: walking, yoga, bike riding, dancing
3. Stop smoking.
4. Limit alcohol consumption.
5. Eat healthy balanced meals. Limit fatty and sweet foods. (fruits, vegetables, protein). 6. Take your vitamins.
7. Drink 4-6 glasses of water daily.
8. Stay up to date with wellness visits with primary care providers and ask questions pertaining to your health.
9. Perform a self breast exam regularly. Schedule mammograms as needed and discuss with a physician at which age is appropriate for you.
Author: Kimberly Jones MSN-Ed, RN
Founder and Chief Health Equity Officer of Speak Black Health
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