A team of researchers co-led by Julie Palmer of the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University has been awarded $19.3 million from the National Cancer Institute to study why African American women are more likely to be diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer and at a younger age, with poorer prognoses, than women of European descent.
Along with Palmer, the lead researchers on the five-year grant are Robert Millikan of the University of North Carolina and Christine Ambrosone of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
Their study will be the largest to date on breast cancer in African-American women, following 11,000 women, half of whom are already involved in ongoing studies on cancer and women’s health, according to a university press release.
The researchers will look at a range of factors that could affect the women’s health, including genetics, reproductive history, breastfeeding, hormones, body size, physical activity and environmental influences.
Here’s an excerpt from the release:
Until now, studies on breast cancer in African-American women have been hampered by not having a large population to investigate risk factors for specific subtypes of breast cancer and for breast cancer diagnosed at an early age.Chelsea Conaboy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The investigation will be the first to develop comprehensive models for contributions of genetic and non-genetic risk factors for breast cancer subtypes in African-American women. The collaborators’ goal is to discover genetic, biologic, reproductive and behavioral risks for breast cancer subgroups defined by tumor biology and age at onset of disease.
“By combining our studies and expertise, we will finally be able to uncover the reasons for these disparities,” said Palmer. “Our hope is that this research will identify factors that can be used to prevent this deadly disease.”