Friday, October 17, 2008

President's Corner: Breast Cancer--Environment or Heredity?

By Norris McDonald.

My mother, Katie Louvenia Best-McDonald, right, died of breast cancer when she was 26 years old. I was seven. I remember bursting into her bedroom door when I was maybe 4 or 5 years old and I saw the long scar on the right side of her chest. Yet she is the only woman in our family lineage that I know of who died from breast cancer. She grew up in rural North Carolina in the 40's and 50's and I always wondered if she was exposed somehow. Yet I found out that she did not work in the fields because her father was a very successful tenant farmer.

So is breast cancer mostly inherited or do environmental factors play a role?

I recently saw a copy of Today's Black Woman in the grocery store check out line and bought it because of an article entitled "The State of Black Health Today." In a Special Report, it was noted that African-American women have a genetic marker that increases their risk for invasive breast cancer, a mitochondrial DNA allele numbered 10398A. It was also cited that black women may be less likely to undergo appropriate treatment for breast cancer "because of a higher frequency of low income, single-parent households." So black women are dying from breast cancer at a much faster rate than women of other races. What do you think?

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