San Francisco Chronicle Opinion Pieces Examine High Breast Cancer Rate in Marin County
Two opinion pieces in the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday discussed the high rate of breast cancer in Marin County and related issues. Marin County has a breast cancer rate of more than 220 diagnoses per 100,000 women, compared to the national average of 140 breast cancer cases per 100,000 women. Many experts attribute the higher rates of breast cancer in the county to socioeconomic, rather than environmental, factors. The county has a large population of women who are white, affluent and educated, factors associated with high rates of breast cancer. Affluent women often have fewer children, have children later in life, use fertility treatments to conceive or take hormone replacements at the onset of menopause -- factors that could lead to cancer, according to experts (California Healthline, 1/14). Summaries of the opinion pieces appear below.
- Jeanne Rizzo, executive director of the Breast Cancer Fund: Although "heartened" by increased attention toward the high breast cancer rates in Marin County, researchers should not "indulge the inclination to look only in the easy, well-lighted places for answers," such as risk factors associated with the population of women in the county, Rizzo writes. According to Rizzo, risk factors associated with affluence and education may contribute to the high breast cancer rates, "but they certainly do not fully explain them." She concludes, "To depend too heavily" on socioeconomic factors "ignores the fact that breast cancer rates are increasing across all socioeconomic groups" (Rizzo, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/3).
- Assembly member Joe Nation (D-San Rafael): Explanations of the high breast cancer rate in Marin County "are seemingly endless," but "no matter what the causes, we must find a cure," Nation writes. Nation writes that he by "extremely disappointed" in a proposal by Gov. Gray Davis (D) to eliminate state-funded cancer research in fiscal year 2003-2004, adding that funds from the state and federal governments, businesses and private donors "fuels invaluable" breast cancer research. Nation concludes, "We cannot afford to eliminate any of the funding sources. Moreover, all funding sources need to work together to optimize our chances of finding a cure through cancer research" (Nation, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/3).