Preliminary Research Finds Genetic Factor Behind Blacks’ Increased Cancer Rates
Genetic factors might be behind higher cancer rates among minorities, according to research presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, Reuters reports. Researchers at Windber Research Institute and the Walter Reed Army Medical Center examined samples of healthy breast tissues from 26 black women and 22 white women. According to their preliminary findings, two genes involved in cell division and cellular energy production were more active among black women. Lori Field, a postdoctoral fellow at Windber, said, "Both conditions could promote cell growth ... making African-American women more prone to developing breast cancer at a younger age." In a separate study, National Cancer Institute researchers looked at variations in a gene responsible for a protein causing inflammation and immunity in people with colon cancer. They found that four of the variations are associated with an increased risk of colon cancer among blacks but not among whites and are working to validate the findings. Previous research on racial health disparities has pointed to access to care, insurance status, poverty and cultural barriers as reasons why minorities are more likely to develop and die from cancer (Beasley, Reuters, 4/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.