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11.10.2015 admin
Despite recent strides in improving overall survival for women with breast cancer in the United States, African American women are still at a disadvantage.
Many factors influence survival from breast cancer, and Table 1 lists a few factors that contribute to a lower survival rate for young African American women. Along with public health initiatives to educate, encourage, and support young African American mothers in breastfeeding, scientists are also taking steps to find out how breastfeeding can potentially prevent tumor growth. Although progress has been made in reducing overall breast cancer death rates, more research is needed to continue this progress and reduce breast cancer disparities.
I would like to thank Kristen Cordova, Joan Franke, Kerry Tomlin, and Lauren Salisbury for their editorial advice and suggestions. Author Info: Tanya Russell holds a PhD in molecular biology from the University of Colorado, where she also recently completed her postdoctoral fellowship conducting innovative breast cancer research. The breast cancer awareness organization PinkChoseMe Foundation is hosting BREAST RECONSTRUCTION AWARENESS (BRA) Day USA 2012, an awareness and fundraising celebration, on October 17th, 2012. PinkChoseMe Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to uplifting the lives of women who are cancer survivors as well as those living with cancer.
Tiffany Jones, Founder and President of PinkChoseMe Foundation, is working with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the Plastic Surgery Foundation to bring BRA Day USA 2012 to New York City for the very first time.
These numbers exist in spite of federal and state laws that require health insurers (including Medicaid and Medicare) to cover breast reconstruction procedures along with a number of state laws promoting a team approach to breast cancer that ensure a plastic surgeon is consulted prior to surgical mastectomy. The campaign strategy integrates media, industry, marketing, public relations, celebrity endorsement and meaningful research to raise awareness and educate the public about the options available post-mastectomy.
PinkChoseMe stands as a partner in this effort and is organizing the awareness and fundraising event at the Martin Lawrence Gallery.
As the exclusive beverage sponsor for the evening, MARTINI Sparkling Rosé is proud to be pink! Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, or BRA Day USA, is an initiative designed to promote education, awareness and access regarding post-mastectomy breast reconstruction.
Reach out to the author: contact and available social following information is listed in the top-right of all news releases. In particular, young African American women have an increased risk of developing and dying from breast cancer (Figure 1).
An active area of breast cancer disparity research is the impact of childbirth and breastfeeding on breast cancer risk.

Slavery in the United States, which lasted from about 1619 to 1865, had profound negative effects on the physical, mental, and emotional states of enslaved Africans. One idea is that pregnancy increases the number of basal cells, which are thought to be the source of human breast stem cells, to help build up the milk supply. I’d like to also thank Gretchen Place for help with the images, and Cornelia Gamble and Mary Bryant for sharing their stories. The Foundation offers innovative solutions which provide women with the tools to face their inner and outer beauty challenges. Young African American women are also more likely to be diagnosed with more aggressive forms of breast cancer, such as triple-negative or basal-like breast cancers. Many enslaved African women served as “wet nurses”; while their children were removed from them and sold away, they were forced to breastfeed the children of their slave owners.
Once pregnancy ends, extra basal cells are no longer needed, and the start of breastfeeding deactivates these cells. The integration of basic science, health disparity research, and public health initiatives has the potential to establish breastfeeding as a model breast cancer prevention strategy for young African American women.
Parity and lactation in relation to estrogen receptor negative breast cancer in African American women.
Parity and breastfeeding among African-American women: differential effects on breast cancer risk by estrogen receptor status in the Women’s Circle of Health Study [published online November 7, 2013].
PinkChoseMe is challenged to educate women about preventive care, and strives to enrich their lives. These particular breast cancers are worse than other forms of breast cancer because the cancer cells do not contain hormone (estrogen and progesterone) receptors, which can be targeted by the drug tamoxifen, or excess amounts of a protein called HER2, which can be targeted by the drug Herceptin®. Recent data suggest that breastfeeding could reduce the number of aggressive breast cancers in African American women by approximately 68%. Another factor that may have discouraged breastfeeding among African American women is the widespread use of baby formula. However, if breastfeeding never occurs after a pregnancy, these cells never deactivate and they keep dividing. The women of the PinkChoseMe Foundation were “Chosen” to continue their fight for a healthy and happy life. Most triple-negative breast cancers are also basal-like, meaning they resemble the basal cells that line mammary ducts and sit next to the myoepithelium.

Yet only 20% of African American women breastfeed exclusively for six months (the recommended amount of time for optimal infant nutrition), compared to 40% of non-Hispanic white women. During the 1940s and 1950s, many physicians regarded baby formula as a safe and popular substitute for breast milk.
Basal-like breast cancers are also very aggressive, just like triple-negative breast cancers. If the problem of how to reduce the risk of aggressive breast cancers could be solved by a relatively simple solution such as breastfeeding, then why don’t more young African American women breastfeed? The use of formula also became a status symbol for many African Americans in southern states such as Kentucky and Mississippi.
Animal studies have shown that lactation (another term for breastfeeding) actually protects against cancer.
Research is needed to eliminate the breast cancer disparity in young African American women.
If you could afford to buy baby formula, you were rich, and if you breastfed, you were poor. Mice that are programmed to mimic lactation are protected against mammary tumor formation and progression.
These experiences are likely to have manifested into other negative images of breastfeeding throughout the years. Also, a protein found in human milk called HAMLET (human a-lactalbumin made lethal to tumor cells) has been shown to kill cancer cells but not normal, healthy cells.
Today, many young African American mothers struggle with social and media-driven perceptions about breastfeeding and may not have the support needed to encourage breastfeeding. Along with the use of innovative breast cancer models, this research could help us determine which specific characteristics of breastfeeding stop the development and progression of breast cancer.
Ultimately, this type of research could help find new treatments to stop the early stages of breast cancer invasion.

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