100 Black Men Pursue Prostate Mobile Units for Early Detection
By Dianne Anderson
Black men can run and hide from the needle, but they are still over twice as likely to die from prostate cancer than white men, even though a simple PSA blood antigen test starting at age 35 could save their lives.
It’s a problem that Eric Burroughs has been chipping away at, starting 10 years ago with the 100 Black Men of America campaign against the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommendation that PSA testing is not needed before age 55.
But for Black men, their cancer spreads faster and starts younger.
Although the PSA test is a simple blood test, Burroughs said the bigger problem is reversing decades and hundreds of years of medical abuse. It’s what led to the distrust of the medical system.
“Not just Tuskegee, there’s a number of cases of government public health that agencies came up with treatments that were not kind to African American males. That issue needs to heal. We’re talking about human intelligence and cultural competency,” said Burroughs, Health and Wellness Chairman of the 100 Black Men of Long Beach Inc.
Currently, the American Cancer Society recommends prostate testing start at age 50 for most men, and those at higher risk of prostate cancer should begin at 45.
By then, Burroughs said it’s still too late for Black men, but there is another way.
The 100 BMLB is part of the Long Beach Black Health Equity Collaborative, and he hopes to work with the City of Long Beach Health Department to get prostate testing mobile units out into the community.
He is also connecting with area hospitals to help the 100 BMLB secure the units, targeting increased prostate testing for Black men.
Because the city already has several other mobile units, including asthma and HIV, he feels confident that prostate outreach can have a powerful impact. Their “100′ chapter has also been working with Charles Drew University.
“I’ve seen many mobile units over the months, but I haven’t seen anything solely for men with prostate cancer,” he said. “I believe we’re going to get there. We have one connection who discussed converting mobile units into a unit for Black men.”
Burroughs has a background in healthcare and management starting with the U.S.Navy, where he earned three medals, served during Shield/Storm Operations, and also with the Veterans Affairs Hospital Long Beach Health Administration. He is also the MolinaCares Accord Foundation Community Champion 2021 Award Recipient for his role in getting masks and essential safety supplies out to the community during the pandemic.
Burroughs also tries to alert the community to the role of diet in prostate health. Several studies confirm a connection between fried foods and higher cancer rates. Recently, Harvard University cited a study with 41,000 men over 28 years.
The findings showed that a hyperinsulinemic dietary pattern was associated with a 7% higher risk of advanced prostate cancer and a 9% higher risk of fatal prostate cancer. The study also showed that a dietary pattern associated with inflammation was associated with earlier-onset lethal prostate cancer.
Burroughs said he has also cut back on fried foods, starches and sugar. Studies suggest that oil heated past its smoke point to fry food is cancer-causing.
“I grew up on fried chicken, Coca Cola, and red velvet cake,” he said. “I toned it down. I don’t eat as much beef, but you can fry chicken in the oven. It comes out tasty and has the look of fried chicken.”
The 100 BMLB first started pushing early detection under Dr. Bill Releford Jr. for Black men starting at age 35 over a decade ago. The outreach got the attention of the community. Their group, along with Psi Eta Chi and other nurses hit 30 barbershops and beauty shops spanning the area and into Carson.
“We had it so organized with St. Mary’s student nurses and Psi Eta nursing chapter was with us. We went out to the field at 9 a.m. everyone had their assignment,” he said. “I was so pleased. The community was asking the questions and listening, the focus on health was truly happening.”
To find out how to get involved with the upcoming 100 BMLB community mobile units for prostate testing, contact https://100blackmen.org