Marin County’s Breast Cancer Rate Continues to Rise
Marin County's breast cancer rate rose a "stunning" 20% in 1999, according to a study released yesterday that "solidif[ies]" the county's status as the "breast cancer capital of the country," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The increase was mostly confined to women ages 45 to 64, according to Dr. Tina Clarke, an epidemiologist with the Northern California Cancer Center, which conducted the study. She said the breast cancer rate for this group is 58% higher than that of the rest of the Bay Area and 72% higher than that of the rest of the state (Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/17). In addition, the study found that the death rate from breast cancer among Marin women is 25% higher than it is for the rest of the state (AP/Fresno Bee, 1/17). The 1999 findings represent the "largest recorded annual jump in the breast cancer rate ever in Marin," an increase "all the more disturbing" because health officials and cancer experts cannot determine what is causing the problem, the Chronicle reports. Some believe that the county's cancer rate is partly the result of the high percentage of older women who either did not have children or gave birth "at a later age." Breast cancer is more prevalent in "older, wealthier white women" who have children during their 30s and 40s, the Chronicle reports. Many wealthy suburbs nationwide have similar demographics. The new study attempts to explain Marin County's discrepancy further by noting a "unique migration pattern" in which younger women with children are "moving out" while older women with a higher risk profile are "moving in." However, Clarke said migration factors could not be "determined definitively until the 2000 census figures are thoroughly studied." And even considering such factors, Clarke and other specialists said they could not explain a rise as large as the one in 1999 (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/17).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.