Very little is known about the role of lifestyle in breast cancer risk, and even less is known about whether differences in lifestyle contribute to the disparities in this risk between African-American women and white women. In this study, the authors examined differences in diet and physical activity between African-American women and white women and discuss the research that is needed regarding the role of lifestyle in breast cancer risk.
The authors used bivariate and multiple regression analyses to estimate the difference between African-American women and white women in body mass index (BMI), physical activity, the Healthy Eating Index, intake of selected nutrients, and serum levels of some micronutrients. Data were taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III, 1988–1994.
African-American women had a higher BMI, and older African-American women were less active physically compared with white women. African-American women of all ages had a poorer quality diet, and they consumed more protein and cholesterol but less dietary fiber, folate, and vitamin A. African-American women had lower predicted serum levels of folate and vitamin A but higher predicted serum levels of lutein.
The current findings generally are consistent with the hypothesis that nutrition differences may contribute to the higher rate of breast cancer experienced by younger African-American women, although extensive research is needed. More longitudinal data and research on nutrition, genetics, and breast cancer among African-American women are needed. Studies should examine how to help African-American women make behavioral changes to reduce their risk of breast cancer. Cancer 2003;97(1 Suppl):280–8. © 2003 American Cancer Society.