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Some Good News About Breast Cancer

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, September 30, 2009 11:37 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Breast Cancer, HRT, American Cancer Society, Women's Health, Women's Health Initiative, Exercise, Vitamin D, Obesity

Breast cancer rates have been steadily declining since 1990, but the decline is not as great among African-American women and the uninsured.

Some Good News About Breast Cancer


IMAGE SOURCE: © iStockPhotos / breast cancer / author: cassp

The good news is that fewer women in the U.S. are dying from breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS) in a new report, Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2009-2010.

Deaths have been declining overall among African-American, Hispanic and Caucasian women, about two percent each year since 1990, when the death rate peaked.

Since then, rates have dropped by nearly 30 percent.

However the news is not all good. A disparity in death rates is shown in the numbers. Black women have a 38 percent increased risk of death from breast cancer than white women, the report finds.

“While there is much to celebrate in the fight against cancer, this report is also a strong reminder that far too many women still die of breast cancer and of the work yet to be done,” said Elizabeth “Terry” T.H. Fontham, MPH., Dr.PH, American Cancer Society national volunteer president. “We need to make sure all women have access to information to help them reduce their risk and to resources to ensure early detection and the best possible treatment.”

With improvements in treatment some 130,000 women were saved this year.

Ongoing Disparities

Among the uninsured, 30 percent of women had a mammogram over the past two years compared to 70 percent of insured women.

Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, director for cancer surveillance at the American Cancer Society says to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that even fewer would die if there was more access to mammography and more treatment for the uninsured.

The decline in death rates has been greater among women under the age of 50 than among those over 50.

Among African-American women, the incidence of breast cancer has stabilized, while for white women they’ve declined steadily about two percent a year. That translates to a 38 percent higher breast cancer death rate in African-American women.

African-American women are more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage of the disease when it is more difficult to treat.

In 2009, 192,370 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer which is the second leading killer of women behind lung cancer.

Promote Prevention

Exercise - Women who never get breast cancer don’t have to worry about treatment. The report encourages maintaining a healthy body weight and keeping fit through exercise, at least 30 minutes a day five days a week. 45 minutes to an hour daily might be even better.

Vitamin D - Made by the skin in the presence of the sun, is making a comeback as a number of studies are reporting that Vitamin D may reduce the risk and spread of breast cancer.

A study from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) finds women with Vitamin D deficiency were more likely to have a recurrence of breast cancer or to die from the disease. Look at 1,000 to 2,000 IU per day.

Alcohol - Increasingly, alcohol consumption has been linked to breast cancer. The ACS says limit your alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day.

HRT - The report also notes that in 2002-2003 there was a sharp decline in the number of deaths because women, ages 50 through 69, were no longer given hormone replacement therapy (HRT) following a 2002 study that revealed the risks outweighed the benefits.

The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study was stopped early as a result of that the rate of breast cancers was 26 percent higher than those receiving a placebo, the rate for heart disease was 29 percent higher, and stroke was 41 percent higher. #

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