African-American women in South Carolina have a lower incidence of breast cancer, but when diagnosed, they have a higher rate of death from the disease.
A group of USC researchers including nursing professor Swann Arp Adams hopes to prove another assertion: African-American women can use health and nutrition education as a tool to prevent the disease.
A five-year, $1 million National Cancer Institute grant involves African-American women in the Pee Dee region of the state and focuses on decreasing chronic inflammation and breast density, both of which have been linked to increased breast cancer risk. The project is called SISTAS – Sisters Inspiring Sisters Through Activity and Support – and centers on peer education.
“It’s a 12-week program in which community leaders and peers talk with participants about healthy eating, low-fat diets and activity,” Adams said. “We know that if we can lower inflammation through diet and exercise, we can prevent some cancers and increase the survival even for those with cancer.”
The SISTAS project ends in 2015 and could pave the way toward new techniques for reducing breast cancer health disparities and improving cancer survival for everyone.