You might think that cancer doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you’re young or old, rich or poor, man or woman. But a new study has found that it does matter if you’re black or white.
A recent study conducted by the Sinai Urban Health Institute in Chicago found that black women are more than twice as likely to die from breast cancer as their white counterparts. The study, which was funded by the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade and published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, looked at the racial disparity of breast cancer deaths across the U.S.
According to the study, while white women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, black women are much more likely to die from the disease. Researchers evaluated health data from two dozen large cities across the U.S. and found disparities between black and white mortality rates in 21 of those 24 cities. Data showed that San Francisco, Calif. had the lowest rate of disparity in breast cancer mortality rates between white women and black women while Memphis, Tenn. had the highest.
Does breast cancer attack black women more aggressively? That might account for some of the cases if they were evenly spread in each city. But low rates of disparity in some cities such as Baltimore, New York, and San Francisco indicate that other factors may be at work. The study suggests that lack of access to care, lack of health insurance, poverty, and racism within the health care system may be the real reason that as many as 1700 black women die unnecessarily from breast cancer each year.
Those are big numbers, and rather strong accusations. But the data appear to back them up. If these data are accurate, they show that racism is going strong in the U.S. in ways we might have never suspected. And it’s still killing people at a rate of hundreds and possibly thousands of women each year.
Now that's tragic. Cancer is sad enough without adding racism to the mix.
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