IN YOUR PRIME: How ethnicity affects breast cancer risk

Credit: Shutterstock

Credit: Shutterstock

No one is immune to breast cancer. Even men can be diagnosed with breast cancer, though the threat of the disease looms much larger for women. In fact, the World Cancer Research Fund International reports that breast cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in women across the globe. However, the World Health Organization indicates that, as of the end of 2020, roughly 7.8 million women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the previous five years were alive. So while no woman wants to receive a breast cancer diagnosis, millions of women worldwide are living testaments to the effectiveness of treatments for the disease.

There are various things women can do to increase their chances of surviving a breast cancer diagnosis. Recognizing one’s own risk of developing the disease is especially important, as it may compel women to prioritize screening and make changes that could reduce their cancer risk.

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There are many risk factors for breast cancer, and ethnicity is one of them. Data from the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society indicates that breast cancer rates and survival rates differ among ethnic groups. Though the relationship between ethnicity and breast cancer is complicated and intertwined with other risk factors, data from the NCI and ACS indicates that incidence and death rates are higher among certain ethnic groups than others.

Highest incidence rate: White, non-Hispanic

Lowest incidence rate: Korean American

Highest death rate: African American

Lowest death rate: Chinese American

The MD Anderson Cancer Center notes that socioeconomic factors such as education and income level and access to medical screening and services undoubtedly affect incidence and death rates among different ethnicities. But other factors, such as cultural practices and beliefs within certain ethnic groups, also affect those rates. Women concerned about breast cancer are urged to prioritize screening for the disease and discuss factors such as diet, physical activity and cultural practices to determine if there’s anything they can do to lower their cancer risk.