Births, breastfeeding rates may explain breast cancer disparities
August 16th, 2011
05:26 PM ET

Births, breastfeeding rates may explain breast cancer disparities

A new study may better explain why African American women have greater risk for developing more aggressive and difficult-to-treat forms of breast cancer, called estrogen and progesterone receptor negative cancers (ER-/PR-). The findings appear in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

Breast cancer is the second-most common type of cancer among women, after skin cancer. While white women are slightly more likely to get breast cancer than African American women, African American women are more likely to die from breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, because they are more likely to develop more aggressive breast cancers. But why this happens has been less clear.

Researchers at Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center analyzed data from the Black Women’s Health Study, which began in 1995 and  follows 59,000 African American women who complete health questionnaires every two years.

From 1995 to 2009, 457 women developed estrogen and progesterone receptor positive cancers, ER+/PR+.

When a woman’s breast cancer cells are classified as hormone receptor positive it means they are more likely to respond to therapies that block the hormones from binding to receptors on cells. This is a less aggressive and more easily treated type of breast cancer.

During the same period, 318 cases of ER-/PR- cancers, the more aggressive and difficult-to-treat form of breast cancer, developed among the 59,000 women.

Women who gave birth to two or more children had a 50% associated increase in aggressive ER-/PR- cancer, but the association was not found when the women had breastfed. Other studies have also found an association between breastfeeding and decreased cancer risk.

The results were “strikingly different” when researchers compared the number of births and breastfeeding among women with hormone receptor positive cancers. Women who had two or more children had lower associations of ER+/PR+ cancers, and breastfeeding didn’t change that association.

The authors conclude that their findings suggest that more births among African American women are associated with greater risk for more aggressive ER-/PR- breast cancer, and “because African American women have had more births on average than U.S. white women, this association may” at least partially, explain the higher rates of those cancers among African American women. The authors suggest that efforts to encourage breastfeeding among African American women may help to reduce the number of these deadly types of cancers that disproportionately affect African American women.

soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. eliza

    I went fake tanning for a year when I was 17, and I am on birth control/estrogen pills. My chances of getting skin cancer and/or breast cancer are high. I'm scared.

    August 16, 2011 at 19:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bobbe503

      I can't help you with the breast cancer. Maybe someone else can. But re the skin cancer, here is what you might want to do. Find yourself a dermatologist who is caring and thorough, explain everything, then do exactly what she says to do. It will be worth every penny you will have to pay for the peace of mind it will bring.

      August 18, 2011 at 08:50 | Report abuse |
    • LEB

      Just a year of tanning is unlikely to cause skin cancer by itself, because you've been exposed to more natural sunlight in your however many years than that single year of going to tanning booths. There is also evidence that long-term use of the pill can decrease the likelihood of other cancers. If you're really worried, there are tests that can be done to figure out your genetic predisposition to eventually developing breast cancer. It's not an end-all, be-all, but it can be good information to have.

      Regular self-exams and then mammograms when you're older and your doctor recommends them can catch cancer early, and breast cancer is very treatable if caught early enough. There is also a new test called NAF that is less invasive than biopsies, and considerably less uncomfortable than mammograms. In other words, MANY early diagnostic tests exist, and if you're really this worried, talk to your doctor about what tests are best for women your current age.

      August 22, 2011 at 15:29 | Report abuse |
  2. Lawrence

    Very hard to say. I support you either way.

    August 16, 2011 at 23:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. dainelle

    im a 14 year old who is an africian american. ive been healthy ever since but now that i think about it should still be safe but if its possible could i know what the symptoms off breast cancer is.

    August 17, 2011 at 02:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DKB

      Learn how to do a self exam, looking for unusual lumps. If you know your own body, then you'll be able to tell when something is "different". Also by the time you are 16 you should get a yearly well woman exam, during this the doctor will also check. At your age you shouldn't have much to worry about, but wanting to be educated is great! Good for you!

      August 17, 2011 at 10:17 | Report abuse |
    • CNNUser

      Dainelle, at 14 years old your chance of developing breast cancer is almost 0%. Your risk of breast cancer increases as you age.

      You can reduce your risk of developing it by maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, limiting the amount of fat in your diet, exercising regularly, and limiting your alchohol intake. Establishing these healthy habits now will reduce your risk of many illnesses not just breast cancer.

      You can increase your chance of survival should you get breast cancer through early detection. Do this by performing monthly breast self examinations. Talk to your doctor or nurse and ask them to show you how to do this. Get regular check ups and start getting annual mammograms when your doctor recommends. Establish a relationship with a doctor or nurse practioner who you trust and with whom you can discuss your questions and concerns. Then follow their recommendations.

      August 17, 2011 at 10:38 | Report abuse |
  4. Dr Bill Toth

    Are they more likely to die because they allegedly get "More agressive" cancers or because they are lessly likely to see a doctor or seek treatment?

    August 17, 2011 at 07:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dr.Science

      Probably both! There are actually multiple reasons, such as lack of access to quality care, or simply lack of knowledge that contribute to this disparity (same goes for men too).

      August 17, 2011 at 09:33 | Report abuse |
  5. Dr.Science

    Please consult literature before making such statements! Hopefully you didn't just add Dr to your name to make yourself sound important!

    August 17, 2011 at 09:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. NM Bowman

    I disagree with you Dr Puttz. Research has indicated that Afr. Americans tend to mistrust doctors & the medical system due to medical experiments like the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. Also, as a married AA female, mother of three, I nurse my children b/c medical professionals have educated me on the benefits of breastfeeding.

    Also, AA women are not the only women having babies outside of marriage. In the past two decades white women have had a 69% increase in unwed birth.

    August 17, 2011 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. crystallla

    dick puttz needs speech lessons

    August 17, 2011 at 12:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Ms. Fergy

    Pure ignorance DrWRONG – I truly hope you DON'T speak for a lot of people. First, as the person above pointed out "AA women are not the only women having babies outside of marriage. In the past two decades white women have had a 69% increase in unwed birth." Next, you assume that all black women are ONLY having children with black men. Check your facts before making such ignorant statements. You might want to do some research on the soaring rates of children out of wedlock in the U.S. as well as declining marriage rates. A lot of people, regardless of race, are just not getting married but the birth rate remains pretty stable. Although I will admit that African Americans rates of bearing children out of wedlock are higher, other races are not far behind....

    August 17, 2011 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Dr Right

    Oh yeah my B. I forgot. Black wome are having to venture outside of black men for fathers since a LOT of black men prefer white women these days. I was wrong to assume that that all black women are ONLY having children with black men.

    August 17, 2011 at 12:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Enough with the racist MEDICAL BS

    I was waiting for our weekly 'black people are inferior and this scientific study shows why' article from CNN. Reading this website for years and I have seen one EACH WEEK. Get off it already. I am a white woman and yet I am insulted this constant new form of racism. Using the guise of 'science' to support their prejudicial hate. I will say this once: COLOR HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HEALTH CARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Her brown skin has zero correlation to breast cancer or any other illness. If any pattern is seen, it is simply a SOCIAL / ECONOMIC ONE. Get it right.

    August 17, 2011 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • You're Crazy

      And wrong.

      Have you ever heard of sickle cell anemia? The "Asian glow"? ..Certain genetic traits are more predominant in some races vs. others and to claim otherwise is ridiculous. Read a book.

      August 17, 2011 at 12:48 | Report abuse |
    • Renelda Moorehead


      August 17, 2011 at 12:58 | Report abuse |
    • Dr.Science

      You are obviously not a scientist or working in health care! There are genetic components that make some people more susceptible to developing cancer, and somethimes these genetic components are found in a particular race. African American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer than their white counterparts! It is a fact, but clearly you don't understand what that is. As this article states, African American women tend to develop a more agressive type of cancer. Even though they get diagnosed with breast cancer less than their white counterparts, they die more from it. Again, it is a fact! And no, I am not African American!

      Please get educated!

      August 17, 2011 at 14:25 | Report abuse |
  11. Renelda Moorehead


    August 17, 2011 at 12:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Roselee

    So many people have no idea that shampoos that grow your hair faster and longer (of course without any sulfates, parabens or DEA) are even a thing. Individuals now may achieve longer hair and possess more options. Surely worth investigating.

    If you're thinking about alopecia, hair damage, avoiding skin disorders, hair growth, hair and scalp care generally, similar ideas become relevant.

    As a general rule, you will want to stay away from hair treatments and products that include chemicals like parabens, DEA and sulfates.

    What's good for your hair is healthy for your skin all the same.

    It goes without saying your content above is spot on for multiple reasons. It steers away from the accustomed traps and mistakes so many fall into: buying bad alternatives. Thank you so much!


    January 21, 2021 at 20:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. froleprotrem

    Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said "You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear." She put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell someone!


    February 7, 2021 at 01:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. http://www.fokuszpalyazat.hu/

    you could have an amazing weblog here! would you wish to make some invite posts on my blog?


    February 9, 2021 at 04:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. consultas brujos online gratis

    I’d have to examine with you here. Which is not one thing I usually do! I take pleasure in reading a post that may make folks think. Additionally, thanks for permitting me to comment!


    February 11, 2021 at 03:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. canadian pills pharmacy

    best canadian mail order pharmacies for diet pills https://canadapillstorex.com/ average perscription pills taken by 65 year old canadian?

    April 12, 2021 at 00:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. counterfeit canadian drugs cialis

    canadian pharmacy no perscription generic cialis https://canadacialisstore.com/ canadian meds cialis

    April 15, 2021 at 06:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. alternative to alprostadil

    alprostadil 40mcg/cartridge inj system https://alprostadildrugs.com/ alprostadil price in usa

    April 15, 2021 at 08:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. vardenafil 20mg tablets

    how does vardenafil work https://vegavardenafil.com/ vardenafil how to take

    April 17, 2021 at 14:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. generic tadalafil

    tadalafil online https://elitadalafill.com/ tadalafil 60 mg for sale

    April 19, 2021 at 15:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. help me please find a place to buy viagra in canada

    how much cheper is viagra in canada https://canadaviagrastore.com/ viagra canada

    April 20, 2021 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. สล็อตพีจี

    เกมสล็อต 3 มิติ ให้ท่านเลือกเล่นอย่างจุใจ พร้อมความสนุกสนานและก็ความท้าทายใหม่ๆที่รอคอยให้คุณเข้ามาสัมผัสประสบการณ์สุดเจ๋งกับเกมยิงปลา แข่งขันม้า รวมทั้งอื่นๆแบบจัดเต็มแล้วก็อีกนานัปการความบันเทิงระดับพรีเมียม พร้อมให้ท่านบันเทิงใจจนถึงไม่อยากพลาดจากจอโทรศัพท์มือถือ ตอบโจทย์ทุกไลฟ์สไตล์ของคนทุกกลุ่ม ไม่ว่าจะอยู่ที่ใดก็สามารถทำเงินได้ทุกช่วง ทุกสถานที่ และที่สำคัญแจ็กพอตแตกทุกๆวัน คุณอาจเป็นหนึ่งในผู้โชคดีคนถัดไป

    April 21, 2021 at 06:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. canadian pills online

    canadian customs pills vitamins https://canadapillstorex.com/ canadian diet pills

    April 25, 2021 at 06:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. canadian pharmacy cialis no prescription

    cialis on line purches canadian pharmacy https://canadacialisstore.com/ canadian pharmacy no perscription generic cialis

    April 28, 2021 at 02:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. where to buy sildenafil

    generic sildenafil 92630 https://eunicesildenafilcitrate.com/ sildenafil citrate generic

    April 28, 2021 at 02:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. buy chloroquine

    chloroquinw https://chloroquineorigin.com/ cloroquine

    April 30, 2021 at 18:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. best ed pills

    erectile discomfort https://canadaerectiledysfunctionpills.com/ viagra without erectile dysfunction

    May 1, 2021 at 05:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. priligy

    priligy priligy pills usa

    May 3, 2021 at 22:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. avanafil

    avanafil 100 buy avana

    May 5, 2021 at 00:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. stornobrzinol

    Good ?V I should definitely pronounce, impressed with your website. I had no trouble navigating through all the tabs and related info ended up being truly easy to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it at all. Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or anything, web site theme . a tones way for your customer to communicate. Excellent task..


    May 13, 2021 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. cyclomune

    cyclosporine lab tube cyclomune

    May 21, 2021 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. tausAffessy

    https://apcalisetadalafil.com/ cialis tadalafil cialis cost cheap cialis pills for sale tadalafil brands

    May 23, 2021 at 11:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Tembepteriope

    generic cialis tadalafil cialis at canadian pharmacy tadalafil without a doctor prescription https://tadacipetadalafil.com/

    May 23, 2021 at 18:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. combigan

    combigan side effects combigan bottle sizecombigan

    May 23, 2021 at 20:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Tritreviewifind

    https://apcalisetadalafil.com/ cost tadalafil generic what is tadalafil tadalafil generic where to buy tadalafil side effects

    May 24, 2021 at 08:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Tembepteriope

    where to buy cialis without prescription https://tadalafilww.com/ tadalafil blood pressure buy tadalafil tadalafil without a doctor prescription

    May 24, 2021 at 23:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Soosteemocush

    side effects of tadalafil https://tadacipetadalafil.com/ – tadalafil order online no prescription side effects for tadalafil cialis cost cost tadalafil generic

    May 24, 2021 at 23:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Tritreviewifind

    https://tadalafilww.com/ tadalafil generic where to buy https://tadacipetadalafil.com/ – side effects for tadalafil cheapest tadalafil cost

    May 25, 2021 at 11:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. tausAffessy

    tadalafil online with out prescription tadalafil price walmart where to buy generic cialis online safely side effects of tadalafil https://tadagatadalafil.com/ – tadalafil generic

    May 25, 2021 at 18:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Tembepteriope

    cheap generic cialis for sale https://tadalafilww.com/ – tadalafil order online no prescription generic cialis tadalafil tadalafil cialis cheap cialis pills for sale

    May 26, 2021 at 01:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Unitmerienepeft

    https://apcalisetadalafil.com/ tadalafil price walmart tadalafil cost in canada buy tadalis tadalafil cialis

    May 26, 2021 at 01:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. tausAffessy

    cost of cialis https://tadalafilww.com/ – cialis without a prescription tadalafil liquid lowest price cialis prescription tadalafil online

    May 26, 2021 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. brimonidine

    brimonidine generic brimonidine side effects

    May 26, 2021 at 16:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Unitmerienepeft

    cheap generic cialis for sale tadalafil cost walmart what is tadalafil https://tadalafilol.com/

    May 27, 2021 at 00:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Unitmerienepeft

    tadalafil daily online tadalafil drug buy tadalafil https://tadalafilol.com/

    May 27, 2021 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Tritreviewifind

    tadalafil where to buy generic cialis online safely cialis cost lowest price cialis https://apcalisetadalafil.com/ – tadalafil cost in canada

    May 27, 2021 at 18:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. buy cialis

    tadalafil alcohol cialis tadalafil evolution peptides

    June 5, 2021 at 00:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. hydroxyquinoline

    is chloroquine phosphate the same as hydroxychloroquine hcos chroloquine

    June 6, 2021 at 11:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. tadalafil cost walmart

    prescription tadalafil online tadalafil cost tadalafil evolution peptides

    June 6, 2021 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. clonidin

    hydroxychloroquine sulfate 200mg chloroquine hydrochloride hydroxychlor

    June 8, 2021 at 06:09 | Report abuse | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.