Examining Poor, Minority Women's Eating Habits In Relation To Cancer Risk

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According to a study presented on Wednesday at an American Association for Cancer Researchconference, many African-American women living in Washington, D.C.public housing do not have the healthy eating habits that could reducetheir risk for cancer, Reuters reports (Bigg, Reuters,11/28). The four-day conference is titled, "The Science of CancerHealth Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the MedicallyUnderserved" (AACR release, 11/28).

Thestudy examined 156 women living in Washington, D.C., public housing.Researchers calculated participants' daily consumption of fruit andvegetables, alcohol, calories, percentage of fat intake and adherenceto USDA's HealthyEating Index, which measures the overall quality of diet. Researchersfound that 61% of participants met none or one of five goals formaintaining a healthy diet. Fewer than 1% of the participants met allthe standards in each category, although 64% reported no alcoholconsumption on the days they were interviewed (Reuters, 11/28). The standards were suggested as ways to reduce cancer risk (AARC release, 11/28).

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Thestudy also found that younger women were more likely to eat unhealthy,convenience food than older women. Younger women also appeared to lackthe skills needed to develop a healthy diet, according to the study.The study also found a link between depression, smoking and poor diet.

Ann Klassen, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health,said, "African-American women ... face a worse cancer incidence andmortality rate than most other ethnic groups, and poor African-Americanwomen are at an even greater disadvantage" (Reuters,11/28). She added, "Improving diet is one effective way to help thesewomen lower their risk for developing cancer" (AARC release, 11/28).

Klassensaid, "We believe that there are structural factors in society thatmake it more difficult for low-income people to modify their lifestylein a way that they might know are healthy" (Reuters, 11/28).
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