by Rachel Burt, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner at Roswell OB/GYN…………………………………
Caucasian women are at higher risk for developing breast cancer over their lifetime in comparison to Asian and Black women. Researchers in the United Kingdom designed The Million Woman study to investigate the factors that increased Caucasian women’s risk for breast cancer. The study enrolled over one million women in the UK between 1996 to 2001. The goal of the study was to identify the role of modifiable risk factors in the development of breast cancer. The study results were recently published in the British Journal of Cancer.
The incidence of breast cancer is lower in the US and the UK among Asian and Black women in comparison to Caucasian women. Until know, studies have been unable to clearly identify the the cause in the disparity. The study determined that the differences in breast cancer rates was almost entirely caused by modifiable risk factors. Once the researchers controlled for these risk factors, the cancer rates were similar across all races. In summary, lifestyle choices raise the breast cancer rates among Caucasian women.
The study suggests breastfeeding, lower alcohol consumption, more pregnancies and normal weight have protective effects against breast cancer. Black and Asian women in the study were more likely to have breastfed their children and had higher numbers of pregnancies in contrast to their Caucasian counterparts. Also, Caucasian women were more likely to consume larger amounts of alcohol. Once the researchers controlled for these variables, the rates of breast cancer were similar across the races.
Although multiple uncontrollable factors also contribute to our lifetime risk of breast cancer, it is helpful to know we can make some lifestyle choices that make a difference.
If you have any questions, please contact your healthcare provider and schedule an appointment at 770 751 3600.