Posted on September 9, 2023

By Haleemah Atobiloye and Zoë Christopher

Headline conversations about immigrants coming to America often focus on economic impacts, but rarely on the public health impacts. 

For immigrants, we know that our risk of a breast cancer diagnosis increases when we come to the United States. Now we want to know why.

We turn to this question in our newest resource What We’ve Learned About Breast Cancer from the California Immigrant Community.

From December 2021 to April 2023 Breast Cancer Action served as the convener for a collaborative research project titled “California Initiative to Prevent Breast Cancer in Immigrants” funded by the California Breast Cancer Research Program (CBCRP). We assembled three research teams and a scientific advisory panel that included researchers, educators, advocates, and clinicians with expertise in public health to help us understand why the risk of developing breast cancer increases for immigrant women who migrate (permanently) to the United States.

The research was composed of collaborative meetings, focus group interview sessions, and data collection. One of the research teams focused on workplace and occupational risk factors; another on immigrants living in Latinx enclaves; and the third focused on immigrants living in Asian enclaves in California. The preliminary findings inspired our latest resource.

In this fact sheet, we illuminate persistent barriers to healthcare across immigrant communities, discuss the complexity of tracking exposures during migration, highlight action items for community advocates and policymakers, and provide resources for navigating breast cancer as an immigrant.

Understanding why breast cancer risk increases when people emigrate to California is crucial because it points to the environmental causes of the disease.

Revealing the intersectionality of worker’s rights, economic justice, and toxic exposures, breast cancer in the immigrant community demonstrates why BCAction will continue to prioritize, advocate for, and stand in solidarity with those at the furthest proximity to power, toward the goal of health justice for all.

Read our fact sheet What We’ve Learned About Breast Cancer from the California Immigrant Community now.