Report casts doubt on SF-area breast cancer 'cluster'
Affluent white women in Northern California have been told for decades that they face an elevated risk of breast cancer, but a new investigation of the reputed cluster – the citing of which has stoked fears as well as fund-raising - shows it could all be a case of junk science.
An extensive report in the Pulitzer Prize-winning weekly newspaper Point Reyes Light highlighted how the Bay Area media contributes to the anxiety of white women in Marin County with headlines like “Unseen Killer Stalks Marin” and “Breast Cancer Amid Affluence: High Rate in Marin County Appears Tied to Wealth, Education,” even though evidence shows the disease is no more prevalent there than in other places.
In the 11-part report, investigative journalist Peter Byrne found that increased diagnosis of the disease is due to the fact that wealthy and educated women in the pristine county, as well as other communities like it, tend to be more proactive about their medical care. While early diagnosis is clearly beneficial, the skewed interpretation has left women in Marin County and other wealthy, white, suburban enclaves, including Long Island, N.Y., Cape Cod, Mass., and areas near Seattle and Los Angeles, believing that the dread disease selectively targets them.