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Urban Women May Have Greater Breast Cancer Risk
Date:11/26/2007

uburbs, and 257 women either lived or worked in an urban area.

Breast density isn't an indicator of breast size, noted Dr. Julia Smith, director of the New York University Cancer Institute's Breast Cancer Screening and Prevention Program. Instead, breast density indicates more glandular breast tissue and ducts rather than fatty tissue. That means more area for breast cancer to develop and hide, she explained.

Overall, 26 percent of the women in the study had breasts that were classified as fatty, while the remaining women had density findings ranging from scattered to extremely dense. Thirty-one percent of the rural residents had breasts classified as fatty, while 26 percent of suburban women and just 22 percent of urban women did.

Perry and his colleagues found that women who lived and worked in a city were more likely to have dense breasts than either their rural or suburban counterparts. Urban women had a 54 percent greater chance of having dense breasts than women living in rural areas, and suburban women had a 14 percent higher risk of dense breasts than rural women.

"This is an interesting finding," Smith said. "But, we need to tease out the confounding factors. Are these population issues or does being in an urban environment increase risk?"

For example, she said, urban women may have better diets and may exercise more, both of which can contribute to denser breast tissue, Smith said.

Perry also said there are many lifestyle factors that need to be considered, and he hopes that now that he and his colleagues have drawn attention to the issue, more studies will be done to uncover the cause of this disparity.

One concern that Perry has is that past studies have found that urban women may be less likely to undergo screening for breast cancer, and this study suggests that it may be even more important for these women to get mammograms as recommended.

"All women should be gi
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