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Research Roundup: Blacks and Cancer, HIV and Business

Young Black Women Prone to Deadly Cancer

Younger Black women who get breast cancer are far more likely than their White peers to have a particularly aggressive and lethal form of the disease, a study has found.

The findings suggest that biology may help explain why breast cancer is deadlier in Black women younger than 55 than it is in White women in the same age group. Other studies have blamed inadequate screening rates.

Since 1990, the average annual breast cancer death rate for young Black women in the United States has been 15.4 deaths per 100,000, versus 9.3 per 100,000 for comparable White women.

“It’s been long known that breast cancer in African-American women is a far less common disease than in White women. But when it occurs, it seems to be more aggressive and harder to treat,” says study co-author Dr. Lisa Carey of the University of North Carolina’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

In the study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers identified cancer types by looking for certain proteins in tumor tissue taken from 496 women in the Carolina Breast Cancer Study. The women had been diagnosed between 1993 and 1996.

A quick-spreading form of breast cancer called the basal-like subtype appeared in 39 percent of premenopausal Black breast cancer patients. It accounted for 14 percent of breast cancer cases in older Black women and 16 percent of those in non-Black women of any age.


Blacks Hit Hardest by HIV Infection Among Nation’s Young Adults

HIV infection is significantly more common among non-Hispanic Blacks than among any other young adult racial or ethnic group in the United States, according to the first study drawn from the nation’s general youth population.

The study appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Public Health and uses data from 13,000 young adults.

“The infection rate for non-Hispanic Blacks is 20 times greater than the remainder of the population and this disparity begins early in life,” says Dr. Martina Morris, lead author of the paper and a sociologist who directs the University of Washington’s Center for the Studies in Demography and Ecology.

Although Whites, Hispanics, Asians and American Indians were represented in the sample, federal and university human subjects guidelines protecting confidentiality prevented HIV infection rates from being calculated for these groups.

Morris said the results of the study parallel the racial disparities for other sexually transmitted diseases seen in Centre for Disease Control data. For example, rates of gonorrhea are about 17 times greater among Black youth, rates of syphilis are 12 times greater and rates of chlamydia are about five times greater.

“We need to understand the mechanism that controls the spread of these pathogens. The persistent differentials across a wide range of disease suggests a common mechanism,” Morris says.


Black Americans Twice As Likely As White Americans To Start A Business

African-Americans are twice as likely as White Americans to try to start a business, according to a study by Dr. Philipp Koellinger of the German Institute for Economic Research and Babson College and Economics and Entrepreneurship Professor Maria Minniti.

The study says that although Black Americans are more optimistic about their business environment than other racial groups, Black entrepreneurs are more likely than White entrepreneurs to fail in the early stages of the entrepreneurial process.

According to U.S. Bureau of the Census 1993 figures, approximately 11.6 percent of White workers are self-employed, compared to only 3.8 percent of Black workers.

“Our results suggest that the under-representation of Black Americans among established entrepreneurs is not due to lack of trying but may instead be due to stronger barriers to entry and higher failure rates,” says Dr. Minniti in the article “Not For Lack Of Trying: American Entrepreneurship In Black And White.”

Diverse staff and news wire reports

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