Tag Archives: Pasadena

Racial Disparity in Breast Cancer


Breast cancer rates among white women are higher than those for minority women, but black women are more likely to die from breast cancer. This article explains racial disparities in breast cancer and ways women can reduce their risk.

The basics of breast cancer

Breast cancer is a disease that causes cells in the breast to grow out of control. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women in the U.S. (after skin cancer). Deaths from breast cancer have declined over time, but remain the second leading cause of cancer death among women overall and the leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic women. Black women are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.

What puts you at risk

Your risk for breast cancer is due to a combination of factors. Some are lifestyle issues ‒ such as lack of exercise, obesity, and alcohol use ‒ but the two main factors are ones you can’t control: being a woman and getting older. Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older. Your risk is also higher if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer.

Differences in breast cancer by race

  • White women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than black, Hispanic and Asian women.
  • Among older women, white women have higher rates of breast cancer compared to black women.
  • Black women are more likely to develop more aggressive, more advanced-stage breast cancer that is diagnosed at a young age.
  • Black women are more likely to have breast cancer diagnosed later when treatment options become limited and the survival rate is poor.
  • Genetic factors may make black women more susceptible to certain types of cancer.
  • Lifestyle factors – such as being overweight and not exercising – are linked to higher risk.
  • High rates of type 2 diabetes in black women may be a factor. Women who had been diagnosed with diabetes at least five years prior to their breast cancer diagnosis were almost twice as likely to die of the breast cancer.
  • Economic factors, such as lack of health insurance, limited access to medical care, and lack of access to nutritious foods, may contribute to higher cancer risk in minority women.
  • Women who don’t breastfeed are at higher risk. Breastfeeding rates are lower among blacks than whites.

While there may be some factors you can’t control, such as a family history of breast cancer, there are steps you can take to lower your risk, whatever your race:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your doctor about healthy ways to do this.
  • Be physically active. Most healthy adults should aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly.
  • Limit alcohol. Limit yourself to no more than one drink a day, as even small amounts increase risk.
  • Breast-feed. The longer you breast-feed, the greater the protective effect.
  • Limit postmenopausal hormone therapy. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of hormone therapy.
  • Get screened. The American Cancer Society recommends women 45 to 54 get mammograms every year, and women 55 and older get them every one to two years.

Learn more about breast cancer and what you can do to lower your risk.

Tracy Jansen, M.D.Dr. Jansen is an MPCP partner and is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. She cares for patients at the Pasadena office.

Free Online Workouts to Help You Safely Meet Your Fitness Goals

By: Patricia Chambliss, M.D.

Is getting more exercise one of your New Year’s resolutions? Has being quarantined for months led to some unwanted pounds?

Many of my patients tell me they’d like to take an exercise class but don’t want to risk being around a room full of people. If that’s your case, virtual workouts could be for you.

There are dozens of free exercise programs online, ranging from short core sessions to extended yoga classes. They range from easy to hardcore, require little or no equipment, and can be done in the safety and privacy of your home.

Below, I link to a few sample classes, but for more options see this HuffPost article that lists 50 free workouts. You’re sure to find something you like.

  • GymRa offers a range of workouts, including 5- to 15-minute sessions for beginners, abs workouts, dumbbell workouts, no-equipment workouts, total body routines and yoga sessions.
  • See Sweaty Betty for yoga workouts, HIIT routines, and many other types of routines. Whether you’re a beginner or experienced, Sweaty Betty will get you working at the right level.
  • eFit30 gives you yoga, Pilates, and gentle muscle strengthening workouts. They are 20 to 40 minutes long and will give you a satisfying workout.
  • How about weight training at home without buying expensive weights? Turbulence Training shows you how to do no-equipment bodyweight workouts to burn fat and get lean. These sessions are mostly under 10 minutes and can be used to create your own workouts.

If you haven’t worked out for a while, I recommend taking it easy and building up your strength and stamina. And if you have an underlying health condition, it’s always a good idea to consult your MPCP provider before starting an exercise program.

More resources for you
How to Start Exercising: A Beginner’s Guide to Working Out, Healthline
Exercise Is the Immune System Booster You Need Right Now, WebMD



Dr. Chambliss joined Maryland Primary Care Physicians  in 2013 and is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. She sees patients in the Pasadena office.

Vaping and E-Cigarettes: Is Smoking Still Bad for You?

By: Abby Griffin, CRNP

While cigarette smoking is in decline, the use of e-cigarettes has rapidly expanded in recent years, especially among young adults and teens. The popularity of “vaping” has grown faster than the scientific knowledge about it, leaving questions about vaping’s health effects.

E-cigarettes were introduced in the U.S. in 2007 as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes. Since they don’t burn tobacco, vapers could “light up” indoors, where cigarette smoking was banned. E-cigarette makers also promote them as a tool to quit smoking.

How vaping works

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that can look like a real cigarette or pen. They have containers filled with liquid that’s usually made of nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. A heating device turns the liquid into vapor that you inhale when you take a puff. E-cigarette liquids come in dozens of flavors, including mint, spices and fruits.

Vaping has increased in popularity. There are hundreds of types of e-cigarettes on the market, but one brand, JUUL, has become the choice of many young adults and teens. About three million high school students reported vaping in 2018.

Safer than cigarettes?

E-cigarette makers claim that vaping is safer than smoking and can help smokers quit. The CDC and other health organizations generally agree that vaping is safer since vapor doesn’t contain the many toxic chemicals found in tobacco smoke. However, the FDA does not regulate e-cigarettes – their contents are not controlled – and it has not approved them as a quit-smoking aid.

Also, most e-cigarette liquids contain nicotine, the highly addictive drug found in tobacco, so vapers can get hooked on nicotine just like smokers. And smokers who use vaping to quit cigarettes may just be trading one addiction for another.

Nicotine has been shown to harm the developing brains of kids and may damage the heart and arteries. Some other chemicals in vapor have been linked to cancer, as well as heart and respiratory disease.

Other problems with e-cigarettes:

  • Vaping is a gateway to smoking. Teens who vape are 30% more likely to start using cigarettes than those who don’t vape.
  • Teens don’t know what’s in them. About 66% think that vapor only contains flavoring and aren’t aware of nicotine or other potentially harmful ingredients.
  • They can blow up. Although not common, e-cigarette batteries can overheat, catch fire or explode, causing serious injury.
  • Since e-cigarettes are largely unregulated, there is no guarantee their contents are safe. This point has been tragically highlighted with the recent outbreak of lung infections by people vaping products containing THC. The outbreak has sickened hundreds of people and resulted in many deaths.

Putting the brakes on vaping

As a result of these concerns, officials have taken several steps to restrict vaping:

  • The minimum age to purchase e-cigarettes was set at 18.
  • The FDA is enacting regulations to ban the sale of fruity or sweet-flavored e-cigarettes at most retail locations, such as convenience stores where underage users may get them.
  • In Maryland, there is no statewide ban on indoor vaping — except on MARC commuter rail system train – but Baltimore City and Howard, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties have set tougher rules.

E-cigarettes may have the potential to help smokers quit, but more young people are using them, facing addiction and potential health issues. The bottom line is, smoking is still risky,  whether you use a cigarette or a plastic tube.

Abby Griffin, Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner, sees patients at MPCP’s Pasadena office. She is board certified by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.


Type 2 Diabetes and the Path to Wellness

Hi, I’m Doctor Zarzuela. I’m one of the doctors here at Maryland Primary Care Physicians.

We’ve all seen the negative consequences that our American lifestyle and diet can have.Poor eating habits, inactivity, and stress – it all takes a toll and can lead to diabetes.

If you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it’s time to take steps to manage the disease.

Let’s start with the most important thing to know – and that is your health is in your hands.

You can improve your diet. You can get out and start moving. And you can reduce your stress.

You can join other diabetes patients just like you, who made the changes.

Your primary care doctor can provide the support and the tools to succeed  ─  like a glucose monitor to help you stay on track. And you may be referred to a nutritionist, to help you eat better.

As you do the right things to bring your blood sugar back to normal and keep it there, your primary care doctor will be your biggest fan.

It starts with making the changes that can make you healthy again. You’ll see for yourself – your health is in your hands.

For more information, or help managing your diabetes, contact Maryland Primary Care Physicians.

Jose Zarzuela, M.D.

Dr. Zarzuela received his medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. He sees patients in MPCP’s Pasadena office.