Monday, August 6th, 2012
This guest post is from our friend Marc Hurlbert, Ph.D., executive director of the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade. He shares important research showing how hard it can be for African-American women to reap the benefits of our country’s improved breast cancer survival rates–and advice on what can be done about it.
While medical researchers have made significant advances in improving breast cancer survival rates, the disease remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women worldwide.
Though many advances in surgery and treatment exist, not all women can access these breakthroughs. A recent Avon Foundation for Women-funded study on racial disparities in breast cancer showed the breast cancer mortality rate for black women has remained the same over the last 20 years, but the rate for white women has decreased by almost half because of access to advances in diagnosis and treatment. (The infographic below illustrates this in more detail.)
The outcome of the study is alarming for black women, but because the contributing factors are largely societal, we believe this problem is fixable through education, access to care and treatment. While the causes of breast cancer are still being investigated, there are steps you can take today to help reduce your risk:
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Watch your weight
- Know your family history and breast cancer risk
- If you have a child, breastfeed – experts recommend nursing the baby within an hour of giving birth if possible, not supplementing with formula while in the hospital, and breastfeeding for at least six months
- For five years after each pregnancy, be especially vigilant of what is normal for your breasts -discuss any changes with your doctor immediately
- Exercise – sign up for an Avon Walk for Breast Cancer! Three walks remain in 2012: Santa Barbara (Sept. 22-23), New York (Oct. 20-21), and Charlotte (Oct. 27-28). And it’s not too early to sign up for a 2013 Avon Walk. I’m pleased to offer a $10 registration discount for Parents.com readers. When registering at avonwalk.org, just enter the code “WALK2″ at checkout to receive the discount.
Visit www.avonfoundation.org to help fund life-saving research and programs that ensure access to breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.
For more information and resources, visit www.cancer.org or http://www.avonfoundation.org/breast-cancer-crusade/.
Top image: Illustration of a smiling African-American woman wearing headscarf and a pink ribbon, via Shutterstock.