Breast Cancer Among Indian Women

As discussed in the lectures of this week, many health professionals have explained the prevalence of certain biological disparities between different groups as a result of differences in race. While there is no definitive biological difference between the human races, culturally and socially constructed racial lines have been associated with certain diseases being more prevalent in one race than another. Many factors have lead to the evolution of different human races such as geographical location, local environment, and access to food and water. Because of this, people in the same race tend to have a greater similarity in their genetic makeup (because their ancestors have evolved under the same circumstances). For example, the U.S. Pima have a very high prevalence of type 2 diabetes due to the development of the Thrifty genotype through their ancestors, also known as gene flow. This genotype allowed them to better process sugar and store fat due to their ancestors living in a hunter gatherer society. However, today, the Pima people continue to store fat with much less physical activity, resulting in obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The prevalence of breast cancer among Indian Women is increasing, and is actually four times higher in India than in Western countries for women under 35. According to a study done by the AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences), breast cancer occurs in 8-10% of women under 35 in India, as opposed to 2% in Western countries. The study also discovered that most of these young women have more aggressive clinical and biological characteristics, and their cancers are linked more to genetic predisposition than as seen in older women. The prevalence of more aggressive cancers and larger tumor sizes could be due to societal factors. Because India does not have such widespread technologically advanced health care, many women are diagnosed at a much later stage than women living in more developed countries. I couldn’t find a graph showing these statistics, but here is a graph comparing the prevalence of breast cancer in different parts of India:

“Breast Cancer in Urban India Doubles in 24 Years!.” iDiva RSS. http://idiva.com/news-health/breast-cancer-in-urban-india-doubles-in-24-years/8532 (accessed July 12, 2014).

Sinha, Kounteya. “Breast cancer becoming common among 30-year-old Indian women: Study – The Times of India.” The Times of India. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Breast-cancer-becoming-common-among-30-year-old-Indian-women-Study/articleshow/17040792.cms (accessed July 12, 2014).

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Valencia Smith says:

    I found it very interesting how you talked about the relationship between race and evolution. I definitely agree with the explanation as well. I also believe that evolutions of different races are affected by geographical location, local environment, and access to food and water. The example you used of the Pima population really brought your discussion together. I like how you explained the relation of less physical activity leading to obesity today because of how the ancestors passed on the genotype of storing sugar and fat because of their hunter gatherer society.
    The facts about Indian women and drastic differences in the statistics based on location were very intriguing as well. The fact that India is not as technologically advanced as other countries, women who are diagnosed usually find out at a later stage as you described which hurts to see because I feel like more lives could be saved if there was money to get the technology needed.
    I think racial categories are beneficial in clinical studies just for the simple fact of seeing which diseases are most prevalent depending on race. I also think that people should be very sensitive to the fact that race is something that can be used against people in a negative way when it come to health which could lead to other issues. We just have to be mindful that race and health should be handled with care when it comes to the betterment of people.

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