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Immigrant Asian American women may be at higher risk for breast cancer

Asian American women who immigrated to the United States had a significantly higher risk for breast cancer than their U.S.-born counterparts, according to the results of a new study led by a researcher from the University of California, Riverside. Otherwise, breast cancer rates overall in the United States have stabilized since the 2000s.

Brittany N. Morey, one of the study’s co-authors, said the findings are surprising because they run counter to established research that associated lower breast cancer risk with racial/ethnic minority populations born outside the U.S., including Asian American women.

According to the researchers, immigration patterns could have something to do with the phenomenon. The U.S.’s current immigration climate favors highly skilled Asian immigrants “who perhaps have a higher socioeconomic status than previous immigrant groups” arriving in the country, the researchers wrote. 

Prior research has linked high socioeconomic status with increased risk for breast cancer in numerous populations; thus, the higher-socioeconomic-status Asian Americans who have immigrated to the U.S. in recent years could be arriving “with higher risk for latent breast cancer than previous immigrant cohorts,” the researchers explained.

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