Black Women’s Study, Slone Epidemiology Center, Boston University

Black Women’s Study, Slone Epidemiology Center, Boston University

November 2, 2019 0 By Jose Scott


(synthesizer music) (orchestral music) – The reality is that
there is a continued gap in the information that
has been available, or that was available, about black women and
their health outcomes, in the United States. We need to pay attention to the fact that disparities do exist, they’ve been ignored for many years. But the important thing about this study is that it looks at women
who had never really been given the opportunity to partake in a longitudinal study. – One of the things I really love about the Black Women’s Health Study, is really feeling like we matter. To be able to think about, OK, what are the things in my life
that are affecting my health, and what are some of the
things I wish I knew, or that I wish my mom had known, or that I wish my grandmother
had had access to? – Black women’s health is often neglected. – And I think it’s about
time that we are focused on. That somebody looks at us cause we’re an important
demographic group, and it’s important that our
health needs are taken care of. – It’s a study that should have happened long before it did happen, but I’m so happy that,
finally, it has arrived. – This is a longitudinal
study that has numbers that people never thought we would be in. The attrition is nothing like some of the attrition rates in
other long-term studies. – My research has been
focused on trying to find out what factors predict getting the worst type of breast cancer. The type that is more
common in black women, and more deadly. We call this estrogen receptor
negative breast cancer. In our study, we found that women who have breastfed at
least one of their babies, had a lower risk than
women who had children, and had never breastfed. The importance of place in health has actually been
considered for centuries. Where a person lives, and
what they are exposed to, has a role in an individual’s health. Our research has really shown that there is a strong independent
role of where you live, and what is available to
you in terms of resources, in developing health
outcomes across your life. Psycho-social stresses are
things that actually really get under the skin in major ways and, one that is unique to women of color, and black women in particular, is that of experiences of racism. And this has effect on
many systems in the body. It has an effect on weight gain. Because of the effect on weight gain, it has affected other outcomes including type 2 diabetes, which
is a major factor in the African American community. – One of the areas that we’re
really invested in growing is cancer survivorship. So, some of the things that
we’re doing is looking at the women who have been
diagnosed over follow-up. You know, what were their
lives like after that? – I’ve given a lot of data to the study, and I’m very proud that I’ve done that, And I look forward to
many, many more years of being part of this. – One of the issues we’re addressing is when women should go for
a mammographic screening, to pick up, to detect breast cancers. We know that many black women have their breast cancers at younger ages, and especially for this
more deadly sub-type. We’re working on a mathematical model that takes into account
all of the information that can be used to actually tell women in their thirties and early forties, whether or not they’re
especially high risk, so that those women who probably should have a mammogram early,
will be recommended to go. – My daughter passed away six years ago of a very aggressive breast
cancer, at a very early age. And I was told, and also the
research that I have done, indicates that the type of
breast cancer my daughter had, was most aggressive in
women of African descent. And when I questioned, “Why?” There was no data. – As women age, we want to be studying factors that are related to healthy aging. Factors that are related to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. So, that’s where our study will be going in the coming years. (gentle pulsating music) – As we look at what’s happening globally, as we look at how the
populations are emerging in the United States, as we look at how people are aging, and, you know, living longer, we need to have the data so that we can begin to
do something upstream. The importance of these
efforts, it’s monumental. (upbeat music)