Academic journal article ABNF Journal

The Relationship between Obesity and Breast Cancer

Academic journal article ABNF Journal

The Relationship between Obesity and Breast Cancer

Article excerpt

Abstract: Obesity and breast cancer are major health problems for African American women. Obesity has almost reached epidemic proportions in the United States and is more prevalent among African American women. The breast cancer mortality rate continues to rise in African Americans. A review of the recent literature was conducted to bring into focus the relationship of these two health problems as they relate to African American women. The discussion is divided into three topics, breast cancer incidence and mortality, obesity prevalence and incidence and the relationship between obesity and breast cancer. All of the studies reviewed revealed evidence of a linkage between obesity and breast cancer. The high prevalence of obesity among African American makes it likely that they bear a disproportionate burden of co-morbidities attributable to obesity including breast cancer.

Key Words: African American Women, Obesity, Breast Cancer

African Americans suffer disproportionately from several major health problems associated with high morbidity and mortality. In the past decade much attention has been given to addressing and reducing the health disparities that exist between minority and non-minority populations. However, a widening of the gap between African Americans and whites continues to exist for some health problems. Two health problems, breast cancer and obesity, affect women in general but appear to disproportionately affect African American women. This article examines breast cancer and obesity with emphasis on African American women and provides a brief review of current literature on the relationship of breast care and obesity. The article will address the incidence, prevalence and mortality rate of breast cancer, the incidence and prevalence of obesity, and the associated risk for the disease to obesity.


Breast Cancer is the most common form of cancer among women in the United States. One third of cancer diagnosis and 15% of cancer deaths are attributed to breast cancer in women. It is estimated that 107,000 new cases of breast cancer is diagnosed annually in the U.S. In year 2001 there were 192,000 cases and 40,000 deaths making it the most common incident cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death. (Lacey, Devesa, & Brinton, 2002).

The incidence of breast cancer has been rising for the past two decades but the mortality rates have remained relatively stable. This increase in incidence over the past several years is associated with increased screening by physical examination and mammography. The incidence of breast cancer is 20 to 40% higher in white women than non-white women. The lifelong chances of having breast cancer are similar for African American women compared with white women. African American women are slightly more likely than White women to develop breast cancer before age 50, and slightly less likely to develop breast cancer after age 50. More specifically African American women under age 40 have a higher incidence of breast cancer than young white women (Chu, Tarone, & Brawley, 1999)

Mortality rates are much lower than incidence rates. Even though the incidence of breast cancer is more prevalent in white women, it is more likely to lead to death when it affects African American women. (The National Women's Health Information Center). The highest age-adjusted mortality rate occurs among African American women. These women in the age groups 30-54 years and 55 to 69 years have the highest mortality rate of all ethic groups. In the 70 and older age group, the mortality rate for white women is higher than that for African American women (National Cancer Institute, 2002). The national cancer institute statistics during the years 1973 to 1995 demonstrated that mortality from breast cancer decreased 7.1 percent among white women of all ages and increased 19.4 percent in black women in the United States. In 1995, 31.1 African American women per 100,000 died from breast cancer, compared with 24. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.