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[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

From social environments in women's neighborhoods to the impact of psychosocial stress on genomic expression: A multi-level approach to the human biology of African-American health disparities in breast cancer

Alice Furumoto-Dawson, PhD, MPH, Sarah J. Gehlert, PhD, Christopher Masi, MD, PhD, Suzanne Conzen, MD, Martha K. McClintock, PhD, and Olufunmilayo Olopade, MD. Center for Interdisciplinary Health Disparities Research, University of Chicago, Institute for Mind & Biology - 940 East 57th St., Chicago, IL 60637, (773) 834-9093, furumoto@uchicago.edu

Background: Civil and equal rights movements led to inclusionary policies and increasing research on health disparities and women. Yet medical care addresses only small portions of health inequalities, including breast cancer in African-American women, while many African-Americans continue to fare poorly in economically depressed and racially stigmatized neighborhoods. Although for both groups 80-90% are sporadic vs. familial cases, African-American women face higher risks for aggressive breast cancer at younger ages than European counterparts, even after adjusting for SES related factors. Objectives: 1) We seek elucidation of epigenetic mechanisms underlying breast cancer disparities. 2) Our Center seeks to overcome society-biology, mind-body divides via transdisciplinary research models. Methods: We build on multilevel methodology and neighborhood social environment modeling of the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods to go beyond ecological correlations and examine effects of neighborhoods on individual psychosocial and biological indicators, and their effects on gene expression linked to breast cancer molecular biology. Results: The Center's projects on social animals show strong linkages between social isolation and excess mammary tumorigenesis. Exploratory genetic analyses of African and European ancestry women's tumors show differences in epigenetic alterations, e.g., methylation. Survey results, from focus groups in neighborhoods of African-American women being recruited, link neighborhood violence to distress and loneliness in multi-level analyses. Discussion: Evidence supports concepts that societal marginalization affects human biology and disease causality at multiple levels, via multiple pathways. Social isolation and cognitive distress with other environmental factors have synergistic impact on neurophysiologic dysregulation that may apply broadly to health disparities.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant will be able to

Keywords: Minority Research, Urban Women's Health Issues

Related Web page: cihdr.uchicago.edu

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Women's Health Disparities

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA