With the death of Apple icon Steve Jobs, it seems as if everyone in the Western World has stopped to take stock of their lives. At 56, Jobs died relatively young, and as a global celebrity who changed the world of consumer electronics forever, others are faced with his story and wondering if the same fate could befall them. In fact, it could, especially if you’re an African-American.
Jobs died of tremendously painful pancreatic cancer. Though doctors gave him only months to live, he ended up surviving his diagnosis for years. While pancreatic cancer can and does kill people of all types every single year, it’s especially deadly for one group: Blacks.
According to Johns Hopkins medical school, pancreatic cancer strikes the Black community 50 to 90 percent more than other racial groups in the United States. Not only that, but African-Americans also have less of a chance to survive the disease, as they’re normally not diagnosed until the later stages of the illness, when it’s inoperable or otherwise untreatable.
Scientists don’t know exactly why Blacks suffer from pancreatic cancer more than others, but they theorize that it’s partially due to environmental factors and partially due to socioeconomic factors. Blacks, for instance, are poorer on average, and thus exposed to cheaper and less healthy food. That can lead to diabetes mellitus and obesity, both of which are illnesses that put people at a greater risk of getting pancreatic cancer. Thankfully, the rates of pancreatic cancer are on the decline — but that doesn’t mean they’re gone completely. One in 71 Americans will still develop pancreatic cancer in their lifetimes.
What does this mean for Blacks overall? It means that the fight to survive remains in your hands. While cancer can attack anyone and at anytime, it’s up to you to lower your risks by eating healthy, exercising and quitting smoking, which can also increase a person’s risk for getting pancreatic cancer. Because while Steve Jobs was an admirable role model for how to live life, you certainly don’t want to meet your end the way he met his.
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