Inland mosques and public health researchers in Los Angeles hope to improve breast cancer awareness among Muslim women through local educational programs and a broader study of attitudes about the disease.

Muslim women get breast cancer less frequently than the general population — largely because of cultural and religious prohibitions on smoking and drinking — but more of them die of the disease because it is diagnosed late, say physicians studying why certain ethnic groups within the Islamic world don’t get breast exams.

“It is a cultural taboo” for many women, said Dr. Sondos Islam, assistant professor of public health at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles.

“It has nothing to do with religion. It’s the same thing with Coptic Christians and Catholic Lebanese,” Islam said. “It’s the culture.”


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