Marin County, Federal Health Officials To Investigate High Breast Cancer Rate Among County Women
Marin County and federal health officials last week announced plans to investigate the factors behind the high rate of breast cancer among county women, the AP/Fresno Bee reports. According to the Northern California Cancer Center in Berkeley, white women in Marin County have a 45% higher risk of breast cancer than in other areas nationwide (AP/Fresno Bee, 10/15). More than 220 per 100,000 women in Marin county develop breast cancer, a rate "sharply higher" than the national average of 140 cases per 100,000 women, the Los Angeles Times reports. The study, which will include past research by county health officials, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of the Environmental Health Sciences, the CDC and HHS, will "look broadly at all the risk factors to see what might be causing these alarming incidence rates," Carl Barrett, director of the NCI Center for Cancer Research, said. He added that researchers will first meet to analyze data and determine whether they should conduct additional studies (Munn, Los Angeles Times, 10/13). In addition, the Marin Cancer Project will send 3,000 volunteers door-to-door countywide in November to raise awareness and ask 100,000 residents questions about breast cancer rates (AP/Fresno Bee, 10/15). County and federal health officials in the next few weeks will plot the "geographical distribution" of breast cancer cases in the county, although a "draft map shows the rates evenly distributed" (Los Angeles Times, 10/13). The Marin Cancer Project will ask residents for $1 donations in their door-to-door survey to help fund the breast cancer distribution map.
A study released in July by NCCC found that the rate of breast cancer in Marin County increased 37% from 1990 to 1999 but did not increase in other parts of the Bay Area and California (AP/Fresno Bee, 10/15). In addition, the county's breast cancer mortality rates have decreased at a lower rate than those in other parts of the state, despite access to "quality health care" for county women. Researchers attribute the higher rate of breast cancer in part to socioeconomic factors in the "extremely wealthy" county. Affluent women often have fewer children, have children later in life, use fertility drugs to conceive or take hormone replacements at the onset of menopause -- factors that "may trigger cancer," the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 10/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.