The effect of obesity on mammography utilization in African American women
Breast cancer continues to reign as a common cause of death for women in the United States, claiming the lives of more than an estimated 40,000 women in 2009 alone (Ries et al., 2009). A mammogram, an x-ray of the breast, can aid in early detection of breast cancer and thus more successful treatment. Screening patterns indicate African American women are less likely to utilize mammography technology when compared to their Caucasian counterparts. Additionally, the obesity epidemic in the United States remains a major public health problem. Obesity trends indicate that African American women are likely to be more obese when compared to Caucasian women. Pischon, Nöthlings, & Boeing (2008) concluded there was sufficient evidence linking breast cancer and obesity. Many researchers have identified obesity as a risk factor for breast cancer. As African American women are disproportionately burdened by both breast cancer mortality and obesity, more extensive research is needed to gain more knowledge about their association. The purpose of this study was to identify the role obesity plays in lessening an African American woman’s usage of mammography technology. Data from the 2005 National Health Interview Study were analyzed using SPSS to evaluate the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and mammography utilization in the two aforementioned populations.
After excluding respondents from the sample who did not meet the set criteria, there were 17,666 women remaining. Of the 17,666 women, 6,156 (34.8%) had a healthy weight, 6,024 (34.1%) were overweight, and 4,285 (24.3%) were obese. About 70% of the sample population reported having had a mammogram in the last two years. Another 27.6% of women reported not receiving a mammogram within this same two year time frame. Within ethnic categories, the majority of the sample was Caucasian (64.2%) while only 15.1% of the sample was African American. The relationship between mammography usage and body mass index was not statistically significant within any body mass index categories. When analyzing the relationship between mammography usage and BMI, adjusting for ethnicity, there was also no significant difference between obese African American and obese Caucasian women. The study did find significant relationships between mammography usage and body mass index when adjusting for cancer risk OR = .79 (95% CI .72 - .85), and marital status OR = 1.18 (95% CI 1.05 - 1.34). Due to insignificant findings, there was no evidence to support the hypothesis regarding differences in mammography usage based on weight or ethnicity. Mammography screening differences based on ethnicity are widely cited. Unfortunately it is still unclear exactly where these differences lie. Obesity has been widely documented in the literature as a risk factor for many chronic diseases, including certain forms of cancer. Understanding the relationship between screening behaviors and weight can assist in the development of health promotion programs aimed at high risk groups. In order to change screening behavior and reduce mortality from breast cancer, more research is needed to identify similarities within low screening populations.