The notion that not all women are being represented in medical research is a scary thought, but a real one. We all might be able to recognize up front that not one woman is the same, but the fact that we are not all ancestrally endowed in the same way is a fact that medical researchers have been pretty blind to up until recently.
Researchers have only recently begun to realize how our heritage affects a woman’s potential to battle certain diseases and Dr. Susan Love is at the forefront of these studies.
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New research says that this is especially true when it comes to fighting a disease like breast cancer, a leading cause of death among Latinas. Dr. Susan Love is a breast cancer researcher whose research foundation, the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, is pushing forth a new effort to put Latinas at the forefront of their clinical trials.
Back in 2016, the Avon Foundation for Women pioneered a new study centered on the mortality rates among breast cancer patients belonging to Latina subgroups.
According to the study, 19.04 in 100,000 Puerto Rican women battling breast cancer died. For Mexicanas the rate was 18.78 per 100,000, and for Cubanas, 17.89 per 100,000. The results from the survey highlighted a need for treatment to cater to the ancestry of a women in order to garner more success. There’s a massive hitch in this outcome though.
Researchers aren’t engaging enough Latinas in clinical trials.
In a letter from Dr. Love published on her site, the physician wrote about why this has to stop. She also touched on the importance of increasing the diversity of patients being studied in breast cancer research.
“Recent studies have shown that some Latina women in Los Angeles have a BRCA mutation that traces back to the Aztecs in Mexico, while some African American women have the same BRCA mutations found in West Africa, both different than the one found more commonly in Jewish women in the U.S. This is the type of important information that only comes when you diversify the population being studied. Who knows what else may be different. Could certain ethnicities be more likely to develop side effects or collateral damage than others?”
Her foundation’s newly launched campaign “Commit to Love” is working to address the massive gap of representation in breast cancer studies.
Thank you for all your work and dedication in the fight against breast cancer! It was a pleasure meeting you and thank you for making my mom's day! She was thrilled to received a copy of Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book in Spanish and signed by the one and only. #YohanaVsCancer #BreastCancer #YSCSummit2017 #DrSusanLove
Now the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation is working to encourage Latina women to sign and engage in research by signing up for Army of Women with a series of online videos in English and Spanish. The initiative has set its sights on bringing more Latinas to medical professionals in breast cancer research. So far, over 380,000 people have signed up to join Dr. Love and her Army of Women to battle cancer amongst women of color. The effort is challenging medical researchers to reach beyond its current focus on breast cancer prevention research amongst white women and incorporate women of all ethnicities to take part.
All women, regardless of race, ethnicity or sexual orientation, can become breast cancer victims. Whether or not we have the potential to become breast cancer survivors is something different. It’s great to see a woman like Dr. Love advocating to include and fight for all women.