Thanks to early diagnosis, awareness and better treatments, there is a 40% decline over the past 30 years in breast cancer deaths. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer incidence rate for Black women near equal to white women. However, the death rates for Black women are 40 percent higher that for white women. For women under age 40 that rate nearly doubles. This means that even with the advances in breast cancer treatment, the benefits of any advances have not been beneficial to all women.
Recently, Natural Medicine Journal editor-in-chief, Tina Kaczor, ND, FABNO, addressed the topic of breast cancer disparities in African American women with Aminah Keats, ND, FABNO. Keats is a practicing naturopathic physician at Capital Integrative Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and is also vice president on the board of directors for the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP).
The interview highlights the following disparities in awareness, diagnosis and treatment that all Black women should know about:
- HER2-negative is most commonly diagnosed form of breast cancer in women of all races and ethnicities. It is a subtype with the best prognosis, however, it is also lowest in Black women. Many Black women are at greater risk for triple negative breast cancer, which is a more aggressive cancer. This may be because of women of origin from West African countries, where this is more prevalent.
- The reason that Black women under 40 have a higher death rate from breast cancer is unknown. However, Dr. Keats recommends that women with a strong family history should be in close contact with their doctors and advocate for early screenings when necessary.
- Mistrust of the healthcare system, along with barriers to insurance and transportation, are factors that play a role in inequities of care.
- Black women should pay close attention to insulin resistance and blood sugar regulation, rather than BMI, when looking at risk factors.
- Stress, higher incidence of inflammatory markers and low vitamin D levels also play a dramatic role in breast cancer risk for all women, but particularly Black women. Dr. Keats suggests food and supplements to reduce inflammation.
In conclusion, Dr Keats says, “I think that it’s important for us to be an advocate for our patients, because sometimes they may not recognize red flags that we’re able to catch quickly.” Read the entire interview here.
If you would like to learn more about how naturopathic medicine can support your health, prevention of breast cancer or treatment for breast cancer, please visit the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP).
This article is provided by the Institute for Natural Medicine, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization in partnership with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. INM’s mission is to transform healthcare in America by increasing both public awareness of naturopathic medicine and access to naturopathic doctors for patients. INM believes that naturopathic medicine, with its unique principles and practices, has the potential to reverse the tide of chronic illness that overwhelms existing health care systems and to empower people to achieve and maintain their optimal lifelong health. INM strives to achieve this mission through the following initiatives:
- Education – Reveal the unique benefits and outcomes of naturopathic medicine
- Access – Connect patients to licensed naturopathic doctors
- Research – Expand quality research of this complex and comprehensive system of medicine
Aminah Keats, ND, FABNO, received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Spelman College and completed premedical coursework at Rutgers University. After completing her naturopathic medical training at the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine, Keats completed a 2-year, hospital-based residency in naturopathic oncology at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). She then continued her work at CTCA as a naturopathic oncology consultant and director of naturopathic medicine. She currently practices naturopathic medicine and specializes in naturopathic oncology at Capital Integrative Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Keats also serves as a faculty member at Maryland University of Integrative Health. She is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians, and member of the OncANP Board of Directors. You can find Keats on Facebook and on Instagram @draminahkeats or at her website: drkeats.com.
Stewart is an award-winning editor, food and health journalist and best-selling author of Eating Between the Lines, the supermarket shopper's guide to the truth behind food labels (St. Martin's Press).