Washington Post Examines High Breast Cancer Rates in Marin County
The Washington Post today examines Marin County's increasingly high rates of breast cancer, which are higher than experts have found in all other areas nationwide (Ellison, Washington Post, 10/23). The county has a breast cancer rate of more than 220 diagnoses per 100,000 women, "sharply higher" than the national average of 140 breast cancer cases per 100,000 women (California Healthline, 10/15). Many experts believe that there is no "environmental smoking gu[n]," such as toxic waste dumps or cellular telephone towers, to explain the high rate and instead attribute the rise to socioeconomic factors, the Post reports. Marin County's 250,000 residents are predominately white, financially "well-off" and educated. Those characteristics have long been associated with high rates of breast cancer, the Post reports. Breast cancer diagnoses among non-Hispanic white women, the "hardest hit" group in the county, have increased 37% through the 1990s, compared with a 3% increase for non-Hispanic white women in other parts of the Bay Area, the Post reports (Washington Post, 10/23). 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 could trigger cancer, according to experts (California Healthline, 10/15). In addition, lifestyle factors, such as stress, pesticides on lawns and chemicals from plastic water bottles, may be to blame for the high cancer rates. The Marin Breast Cancer Watch, an organization of breast cancer survivors and activists that has been studying "cancer clusters," found that the local breast cancer rate began climbing in the 1990s, as low-income women were leaving the county (Washington Post, 10/23).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.