The last decade has seen a sharp drop in deaths from breast cancer in Israel, according to new data published by the Health Ministry and the Israel Cancer Association. Some 87 percent of Jewish women survived the disease five years after being diagnosed, compared to 79 percent of Arab women.
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The data was published as the ICA prepares to launch its annual fund-raising drive next week.
Today, there are some 19,493 women in Israel who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, have recovered, or are still struggling with the disease. Some 79 percent of sufferers are women over the age of 50.
This data places Israel fifth among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations in terms of mortality, below countries such as Denmark, Belgium, Ireland and Hungary. According to an OECD report released in June, Israel ranked sixth highest in terms of Breast Cancer mortality rates among OECD nations.
Ahead of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the ICA conducted a survey of 600 women in Israel - Jews, religious Jews and Arabs - regarding their lifestyle. The survey found that a large percentage of the women do not observe a lifestyle that would decrease their chance of developing breast cancer. Thus, 58 percent of ultra-Orthodox Jewish women were overweight, compared to 41 percent of Arab Women and 50 percent of all Jewish women. Secular women were more likely to smoke and consume alcohol, according to the survey, while Arab women do little exercise.
Many women who participated in the survey were aware of the need for a healthy lifestyle, especially regarding smoking and nutrition. Some 17 percent of Haredi women said that prayers were among the factors that help decrease the risk of developing cancer, while 11 percent of Arab women saw cancer as the will of God, believing that nothing can be done to prevent it.
Still, all three different classes of women interviewed were aware of the importance of early detection. Among women over 50 who took part in the survey, 94 percent of Jews and almost 90 percent of Arabs said they underwent mammograms. Among those who didn't, the main reason was fear of the results and the pain involved. Arab women mostly feared unwelcome results.