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Breast Cancer in Black Women

Updated: May 10

By: Lauren Meadows


Black History Month might have ended, but the increase of black women diagnosed with breast cancer continues.


Breast cancer affects more women than any other form of cancer, it is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women globally.


In the United States, breast cancer disproportionately affects Black women in terms of mortality rates and chances of early-onset. Black women have a 31% breast cancer mortality rate, the highest of any other racial group. When compared to white women, the mortality rate is 42% higher.



Young Black women in particular face a higher propensity for triple-negative type of breast cancer. Triple-negative is a subcategory of breast cancer that is more aggressive and associated with a higher mortality rate. This type of cancer is often more frequently diagnosed in American women with African ancestry compared to women of European descent.


Despite a universal drop in breast cancer mortality rates, there has been an increase among Black women. This disparity continues to widen, especially when compared to white women.


Factors that may contribute to this are:

  • The ingredients in products marketed toward Black women, including those in popular hair masks and smoothing treatments.

  • Other products like skin lighteners, nail polish, and perfumes often contain cancer-causing chemicals like phthalates, that contribute to the development of breast cancer, in addition to other diseases.


One way to avoid chemical-ridden products is, to look for all-natural products. Some ingredient buzz words to look out for are dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, and toluene.


There are copious online resources that explain hair care ingredients and how to shop all-natural. Check out this one called