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Breast Cancer Survival Disparity and Insulin-Like Growth Factor

Posted Jan 27 2010 7:15am
It is generally well known that ethnic disparities exist in breast cancer survival.  Between 2002 - 2006 breast cancer incidence was highest in Caucasion womenbut death from breast cancer was highest in African American women.  Research suggests that part of the reason for this disparity in breast cancer survival is a difference in social economic status.  Because of thisAfrican American women are often diagnosed with breast cancer after it has reached more advanced stagespossible resulting in a poorer chance of survival. 

New breast cancer research suggests that there also might be some biological reasons for this disparity in breast cancer survival.  In this studybreast cancer researchers tested their theory that differences in insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II) might explain some of the ethnic differences in breast cancer survival.  To test this theorythe investigators examined the expression of the IGF-II protein and its regulation of cell death in breast cancer cells and tissues from African American women and Caucasian women.  The results of this study showed that
  • IGF-II levels were higher in African American breast cancer tissue compared to Caucasian breast cancer tissue.
  • Blocking the function of IGF-II decreased levels of other proteins that were involved in protecting breast cancer cells from death.
Growth factorsincluding the insulin-like growth factorshave long been implicated in breast cancer development and progression.  This new research continues to show that.  More importantlythis new breast cancer research shows that IGF-IIa protein involved in breast cancer developmentis higher in African American breast cancer cells.  These results indicate that biological differences in breast cancer cells might be partly responsible for the ethnic differences in breast cancer survival.  This new breast cancer research suggests that we might be able to fight the ethnic disparity in breast cancer survival on at least two frontsby gaining a better understanding of biological differences and by improving access to appropriate health care.

The fight against breast cancer continues to be fought from many sides.  One such side is the fight to reduce the risk of breast cancer occurrence.  To learn what you can do to reduce your personal breast cancer riskread my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer at
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