Understanding why different populations have different rates of breast cancer is complex. Genetic factors probably play a role, as do environmental factors. And both genetics and environmental factors can affect each other, causing a multiplied effect. While understanding why different populations have different breast cancer rates is complicated, this knowledge can possibly give us information that will lead to better prevention and treatment.
Diagnoses of invasive breast cancer (breast cancer that has spread beyond the milk ducts or milk lobules) have increased in all women in the United States. But the increase has been much greater in young African American women. More women are being screened for breast cancer and because of this, more women are being diagnosed. Still, the researchers who did this study said that increased screening did not explain the higher rate of diagnosis in African American women.
The researchers have proposed a theory that might explain the differences. It's important to note that this theory is just that: an unproven theory. No research has been done to prove or disprove it.
Here's what's known:
- Scientists know that hormones affect breast cancer's development and growth.
- Some personal care products more commonly used by African American women contain estrogen and placenta tissue (a source of hormones).
So the researchers suggest that the use personal care products with estrogen and placenta might be part of the reason that white women and African American women have different rates of breast cancer diagnosis.
The answers to many important questions about breast cancer started with a theory. More research is needed to see if personal care products with estrogen and placenta tissue play a role in breast cancer diagnosis.