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Wealthy Australian Women More Prone to Breast Cancer New Study

Contrary to conventional wisdom, women living in wealthy neighbourhoods in the Australian city of Sydney are far more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer .

In contrast, women living in western Sydney have the lowest rates of the disease.

The Cancer Maps for New South Wales, to be released this week, will reveal breast cancer is likely to be at least 17 per cent higher in some of the city's most expensive suburbs.

It has been generally believed that people living in higher socio-economic areas usually have lower rates of cancer as their lifestyles tend to be healthier, with greater exercise, more fruit and vegetables and less smoking, junk food and obesity.

But breast cancer appears to buck the trend, with the report clearly illustrating "significantly higher" rates in the local government areas of Woollahra, North Sydney, Manly and Lane Cove.

These breast cancer hotspots are more than 17 per cent above the average figure for NSW - and more than 30 per cent above some western Sydney areas.

Women in north shore Ku-ring-gai, Warringah, Pittwater and Hornsby also have a higher incidence of breast cancer, between 5 and 16.9 per cent more than the norm.

"Significantly lower" rates - at least 15 per cent below average - were recorded in Bankstown and Fairfield, while Blacktown and Canterbury were also noticeably less affected, at between 5 and 15 per cent lower than average.

The Cancer Council of NSW report reveals that the rest of the state falls within an average range.

There are more than 4000 new cases of breast cancer and almost 1000 deaths in NSW each year, latest NSW Health figures show.

The report comes just days after reports of a potential breast cancer "cluster" at Concord Hospital, in Sydney's west, where five women employees were diagnosed with breast cancer between 2001 and 2006.

Another investigation is continuing into the case s of 15 women who developed breast cancer while working at the ABC's Brisbane studios between 1998 and 2006.

The dramatic peaks and troughs in the geographic prevalence of breast cancer in NSW are likely to be blamed on several factors, including lifestyle, environment, hormones, genes, ethnicity and screening.

Women who do not have children, or who put off childbirth until after the age of 30, have been found to be more likely to develop breast cancer.

Studies have shown more affluent women tend to have children when they are older, whereas their less-privileged counterparts tend to start families at a younger age.

Those who are older, have a family history of breast cancer or undergo a late menopause are at greater risk of developing the disease, according to the Cancer Council of Australia.

Hormone replacement therapy and long-term use of the oral contraceptive pill are believed to make women more susceptible to breast cancer, which is known as "hormone dependent" because it relies on the female hormone, oestrogen, to grow.

Increased public awareness of breast screening may mean women in more affluent areas are more likely to have mammograms, leading to better detection rates.

Exposure to high amounts of ionised radiation, such as X-rays, can also lead to breast cancer.

One in 11 women will get breast cancer by 75, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.


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