Although Black and White women get breast cancer at almost the same rates, Black women are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than White women. Black women are also more likely to develop more aggressive forms of breast cancer. Despite this, Black women often get fewer breast cancer tests, also known as mammograms, and Black women often get their first mammogram later in life than White women. Because Black women are considered to be at high risk for breast cancer, every Black woman should visit their doctor for a breast cancer risk assessment by age 30. Healthy lifestyle choices—diets with lots of fruits and vegetables, exercise, and avoiding all tobacco (including electronic cigarettes/vapes)—are all important in preventing all types of cancer and help live a healthier, happier life.
One in five Black men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Black men are 69% more likely than White men to develop prostate cancer and twice as likely to die from the disease. Current tests often miss the more aggressive types of prostate cancer found in Black men. Research has also shown that social inequality, such as quality of health care, lead to higher rates of prostate cancer death among Black men.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) are diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Stroke, coronary artery disease, and high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, are some of the many examples of CVD. Heart disease is the biggest killer of Black Americans, and Black Americans have a 33% higher death rate due to CVD than the rest of the population. Black Americans also have the highest rates of high blood pressure in the world. Black Americans often have high blood pressure at younger ages and it is often more severe. Weekly exercise and cardio testing from your doctor can help reduce the impact of CVD.
It is estimated that, at any given time, 1 in 3 adult Americans is hyperglycemic, or prediabetic. Black Americans have higher rates of diabetes compared to all other races, with 12.7% of Black Americans 18 years or older diagnosed with the disease. Today, Black Americans are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with pre-diabetes than non-Hispanic whites. Many Black Americans are not aware that they are in danger of getting diabetes, or that they even have diabetes until complications develop. This means, Black Americans are much more likely to suffer from blindness, kidney disease, and foot or leg removal due to diabetes.
While Black Americans represent only 11% of the U.S. population, they make up about 25% of the estimated 3.2 million people with chronic HCV infection. Black Americans over 60 are also ten times more likely than other races to have chronic Hepatitis C. Men over 50 are at the highest risk within the Black community for having a Hepatitis C infection. Improving these outcomes is a matter of increasing education and testing, so that this racial disparity does not continue in the future.
Black individuals also account for a higher proportion of new HIV diagnoses and people living with HIV, compared to any other race and ethnicity. Young Black men who have sex with men (MSM) and Black women are at high risk for getting HIV. One in every seven Black individuals living with HIV, do not know they have it. Practicing safer sex and getting regular HIV testing decrease your chances of getting HIV or living without HIV treatment. Advances in technology and HIV/AIDS drugs means that you can live a long, healthy life with HIV.
The Black community is 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population. Common mental health disorders among the Black community include depression, ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), suicide (particularly among young Black men) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, only about 1 in 3 Blacks who need mental health care will get it. This is because of insurance barriers, stigma, lack of awareness, and distrust of the medical community.
1 in 13 Black children are born with sickle cell trait and 1 in 365 is born with sickle cell disease. Medical treatment for sickle cell disease is expensive and providers often don’t know how to treat the disease. Pain management, assistance with medical treatment, and improved communication between doctors and patients can all contribute to improved well-being for people living with sickle cell.
The National Black Leadership Commission on Health (NBLCH) is a nonprofit organization that depends on donations and grants. With your help we will continue the fight to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic, addressing Hepatitis C while expanding to include cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, sickle cell, diabetes, and mental health.