FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Medical experts have noticed a troubling trend in Broward County. They said they have discovered a growing number of cases of advanced breast cancer.

The cases are a red flag considering breast cancer rates over the past several years have been on the decline, mostly because of early detection and prevention.

“It’s very concerning,” said Dr. Jean Latimer, who is with Nova Southeastern University’s College of Pharmacy, “It’s very concerning because it could mean a lot of different things.”

Alarming statistics out of Broward: the county’s rate of advanced breast cancer is above state and national averages.

“Between 25 and 243 fold higher that they should be,” she said.

Specifically women of African descent and who live in zip codes within Plantation, Dania Beach, Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Lauderhill and Hollywood.

“It could be due to socio-economic status,” said Latimer. “It could be due to education. It could be due to nutrition. It could be due to environmental causes or genetics.”

And that’s the question Latimer and her team at Nova’s Autonation Institute of Breast Cancer Research are trying to answer by exposing these sample breast cells to arsenic and glyphosate, a common ingredient in weed killer.

“What we are trying to address is prevention,” said Latimer. “If they are more vulnerable to certain chemicals in the environment, and we can remove those chemicals from their environment through education with things like water filters that you could buy in a pitcher, that would help a great deal.”

The research is expected to last two years. In the meantime, anyone and everyone should be conscious of what they put in their bodies.

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