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I'm Black & I'm Proud... of my health: Part 2

Alright, I am back with part 2 of who knows how many so enjoy because it could be the last!

In Part 1, I touched on how the Black Community needs to do better in taking care of ourselves because historically we have overcome too many things for physical inactivity to be the death of us. Do you agree? K cool.

In this one I want to talk about the inequalities in oncology health care in Canada and how we as a group need to do better to help our own communities thrive.

A few months ago, I wrote a proposed research summary for funding for a future study. For part of it I wanted to make clear the differences in certain health conditions, specifically cancer, among the black community in Nova Scotia. I found zero statistics for cancers among Blacks in Nova Scotia AND zero for Canada. So, I dug deeper and found this (a rough excerpt from my summary):

“While Canadian data is lacking, international evidence has suggested and demonstrated that certain racial and ethnic groups are disproportionately affected by certain types of cancer. The American Cancer Society showed that individuals of African descent bear the highest death rate and lowest survival rate of any racial and ethnic group of most cancers (DeSantis, 2019). African American women in the United States have a 42% higher breast cancer death rate and are twice as likely to die from cervical cancer than Caucasian women. For African American men, the risk of dying from low-grade prostate cancer is double that of men of other races.”

So, in a world where the five-year survival rate of cancer is 63%, it is significantly lower in the Black community. The reasons for this obviously vary, but one thing noted in the literature is the late detection of cancers among this population. I know there are issues with family doctors and receiving the proper tests, but something needs to change so we can feed the research that will in turn help us survive.

We need to get checked when we do not feel well, we need to make sure we are getting routine checks at certain ages and we need to make sure we minimize our risk factors.

Quit smoking. That’s a given. Aside from that, maintaining a healthy weight and limiting alcohol consumption are among the most effective strategies to reduces cancer risk (among many other diseases). It is estimated that 18% of cancers are linked to excess weight, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption and an unhealthy diet.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, more to come…


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