image3204100g.jpg(CBS) Nicole Sudler was a 28-year-old single mother when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I was shocked,” she said. “And I was very, very afraid.” Sudler had one of the deadliest and most aggressive forms of breast cancer. Some researchers are calling it “triple negative.” “It kind of made me feel like ‘Oh, God, my life is going to be over.’ You know, dating, it’s not going to happen anymore. Getting married? Probably not,” Sudler said.

This kind of cancer is a triple threat because it strikes early; it’s resistant to standard drug treatments; and more likely to kill. Its primary targets are young African-American women. Black women under the age of 50 are 77 percent more likely to die from the disease than white women of all ages. Patients like Sudler compel Dr. Funmi Olopade of the University of Chicago to figure out what is going on. “I’m motivated to go back to my lab and figure out: Why did that 20-year-old woman get breast cancer?” Olopade said.

Her quest for answers took Olopade back to her native Nigeria, where she’s discovered that African women share the same genetic predisposition to triple negative breast cancer. “Our work in Africa suggests it may also be more common for more women in Africa,” said Olopade. That may seem like a simple answer to what’s causing a serious problem. But when it comes to race and medicine, nothing is simple. “Race is not a scientifically determined category in the first place,” said Dr. Harold Freeman of the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention.

Poverty, culture and social injustice, not genetics, are behind the disparity, according to Freeman, who is also a senior advisor to the National Cancer Institute. The question is: Is it related to being black in and of itself, or is it related to the circumstances under which people live? Freeman fears suggesting there’s a genetic basis for the disease will revive racist ideas that blacks are biologically different and inferior. Olopade says it’s time to move forward. “I think, actually, genetics gets us to look beyond race,” said Olopade. For women like Nicole Sudler, any research that sheds new light on the deadly disease is welcome. “Help us with the research. We want to live, too,” she said.

Source: CBS News

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  • toi

    Wow this post is quite a eye opener. I’m only 25 but my mom has been telling me that’s its never to soon to take a mammogram. I thought that self breast exams were good enough. but know i’ll be sure to pay extra close attention and not turn my nose up at the idea of needed to have one @ my age.
    Thanx Clutch as always you’re informing me.

  • Sisters let’s be aware that there are studies that show that some of the ingredients in most body care products are not only skin irritants, but also carcinogens. Please be informed!!! I don’t know how many times I have applied deodorant, for example, and was left with small lumps under my arms, painful lumps too. You cannot tell me that using products like these along with all the other synthetically produced products do not have some adverse affect on our bodies.

    Synthetic fragrances, parabens, other artificial preservatives, colors, etc. are all found in these body care products that we slather on daily. African American women spend $7 billion each year on body care and beauty products. What I am saying is that while synthetic body care use is not the sole reason for our young sisters being more prone to breast cancer, using a cocktail of these products daily, along with our diets, predisposition, and perhaps other factors all contribute.

    Using all natural body care is just one way to eliminate one of the factors. It’s easy to do, and if you search, doesn’t have to be costly. Besides, if we’re spending $7 billion a year on synthetically made products to make us smell good, we can afford to purchase products that not only smell good, but are actually good for our bodies. It just takes a little research.

    Karen

  • Ri

    Great article! As a 25 year old wife and mother I can’t afford to be lax about my health. I haven’t had a mammogram yet but I do self-exams once a month. Thank God we have people out there fighting for us.