POSTED ON JANUARY 2, 2013:
Breast Cancer in OK
Fiscal stress fuels physiological misfortune
With Breast Cancer Awareness Month well behind us, Tulsans unaffected byt the trauma of losing a loved one or fighting cancer themselves may be tempted to extnguish the fire which had burned so bright and pink last October.
However, with breast cancer rates in Oklahoma three points above the national average according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, it seems that we in Oklahoma should exercise an increased vigilance.
Co-morbidities such as obesity play a role in both the survival rates of breast cancer according to a recent update on bioportfolio.com. They also increase the risk of cancer by stimulating higher estrogen levels due to increased body mass, according to The American Cancer Society's Journal, Cancer.
Nearly 67 percent of adults and 34 percent of children in Oklahoma are obese according to ok.gov statistics. With heart disease and type-2 diabetes also related to obesity, the chances of an obese individual surviving breast cancer are slimmer.
Obesity plays a significant role in one of three kinds of breast cancer, a type aptly termed "estrogen sensitive." Drugs exist to block the production of estrogen by tissues other than the ovaries in women, and are traditionally used as therapy in post-menopausal women.
One way to combat both obesity and the threat of co-morbid conditions like breast cancer is to control things from the inside out. According to the CDC, Oklahomans consume the least amount of fruits of any state, followed closely by South Dakota, which has the lowest vegetable consumption.
While there is no direct link between preventing cancer and diet, there remains evidence that phenols, antioxidants, fiber, and folic acid can help prevent heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
From 1999 to the year 2008 the CDC conducted a study of the incidence rates of female breast cancer according to ethnicity. According to the study Caucasian woman are still leading the pack when it comes to the breast cancer stats. As of the time the study concluded in 2008, African American women were closing that gap with a rate of 120 incidences per population of 100,000 midway through 2007.
At that same point data showed the incidence of breast cancer among Caucasian females had fallen.
Over the course of the ten years the study spanned, the percentage of those of Asian descent suffering from breast cancer stayed lower than the rest, with the lowest incidences seen in populations of Native American descent.
The one alarming trend that can be gleaned from the data of the study, however, is the rise in cancer rates of African Americans going into the years of what we now know as the "Great Recession," 2007-2008.
It is here that we may draw a correlation between diet and its ability to fight cancer as the overall stress placed on the human body, something scientific community calls the body's "allostatic load."
Oklahoma has been hit comparatively lightly by the recession, with Oklahoma City just barely making it into a list of the top 50 largest metropolitan areas affected, compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Oklahoma City is no Tulsa, but in June 2010 the Economic Policy Institute published an article which formulated the ethnic percentage of unemployment by "applying unemployment ratios derived from the Current Population Survey to the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)."
Subsequent data findings suggested that nationally, black unemployment rates were twice as high as white unemployment rates, even though African Americans constitute approximately half as much of the population. You can bet if it is a trend observed nationally, Oklahoma, especially Tulsa, is no exception.
Having established a correlation between the economic downturn, unemployment, and rising incidences of breast cancer in affected populations, what can we on the home front do to protect ourselves from the odds of suffering from this all-too-common disease?
This takes us back to the idea of stress as a driving engine behind the immune system and disease. On a physiological level stress hormones trigger the release of cortisol, a hormone which under prolonged stress -- like that due to chronic unemployment -- has been shown to correlate with an increase in insulin levels, and circulating estrogen levels within the body.
Just like breast cancer, cortisol does not discriminate, being both men and women's first response to stress.
Tulsans can look to a variety of resources to lower stress, but for those who find themselves at the bearing the weight at the bottom of the socioeconomic barrel, there are a variety of ways with which to cope. These ideas may save your health, and could save you from breast cancer.
World Won Development Center is a non-profit agency that has provided top-tier childcare free of charge since 2009. They are located at 1125 E. 36 St. N. in Tulsa.
Complete Meal Service located at 10807 S. Memorial Dr. offers ready made weekly meal packages ranging in price from $116-$334.
Damelda Newsome co-owner of the North Tulsa Farmer's Market's primary producer, Newsome Family Farm, has been showing her community how to make the most of what they have by making good choices for years. Find her at localharvest.org.
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