Researchers Are Taking a Closer Look at Latina Breast Cancer Survivors and It’s About Time


As Breast Cancer Awareness Month wraps up, but a new study is focusing on Latina breast cancer survivors and their health. The study was funded by the American Cancer Society and found that despite the fact that breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among Latinas in the United States, they are still a group that’s often overlooked and underrepresented in clinical research.

According to the study, Latinas are twice as likely to experience other health conditions that can occur such as insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, excessive body fat and high cholesterol. As a result, Assistant Professor of Research Christina Dieli-Conwright at the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy is currently working on launching a new study of 160 Latina breast cancer survivors to be part of a year-long study on the effects of exercise on Latina breast cancer survivors. Apparently Latinas are at higher risk than other women to develop health conditions after breast cancer and genetic reasons could be one reason why.

“This population is at a higher risk for sedentary behaviors. Type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” Conwright said. What’s just as interesting is the fact that Conwright found that studies that examined the impact exercise had on breast cancer wasn’t including Latina survivors. Why were they leaving us out?

“Out of the 475 exercise studies, fewer than a dozen focused on a minority population,” she said. “The bulk of research focuses on individuals of a higher socioeconomic status, population, primarily Caucasian women

It’s crazy it took this long for someone to realize that minority women were being ignored in these studies. Women of color are often ignored when it comes to healthcare. When Serena Williams opened up about her post pregnancy health scares, reports started coming out about how America’s black mothers are dying at disproportionate rates in labor. The were multiple reasons why, one being that Black women’s symptoms and health were often times being ignored, underrepresented and not considered.

We have to do better because women of color really do deserve better. The fact that Latinas specifically have been left out of studies regarding breast cancer is a massive problem.

Breast cancer findings have fond that Latinas have a higher number of barriers to getting screening mammographies than women of other ethnicities. Low-income, lack of awareness or access and fear of bad news or pain result from the procedure are just some of those barriers. Fortunately, the Latina breast cancer death rate has gone down since 2000 from 14.04 in 2000 to 9.94 in 2011. Screening is definitely key here.

Not understanding a group and how terminal diseases like this could impact them doesn’t actually help them get the information or the help they need to prevent or fight these conditions. Thank god for Conwright’s work. Hopefully this is just the beginning of many health studies surrounding Latinas health so that they can actually get the information and the resources they need to live long, healthy lives.

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