A new study found that women of African heritage face a higher risk for an aggressive type of break cancer called “triple negative.”

Researchers from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center reviewed data from three groups of breast cancer patients: African-American women, white women and African women.

According to the results published in the journal Cancer, more than a quarter of the African-American women with breast cancer had “triple negative” breast cancer, compared to just 16 percent of white women. Strikingly, 82 percent of African women had the particular aggressive breast cancer.

Other studies have found that while African-American women have a generally lower risk for breast cancer than white women, those who are diagnosed are usually younger with more deadly results.

Triple negative breast cancer is negative for three hormone recepters used to determine treatment: the estrogen receptor, the progesterone receptor and HER-2/neu.

"The most significant recent advances in breast cancer treatment have involved targeting these three receptors," study author Dr. Lisa A. Newman, director of the Breast Care Center at the cancer center, explained. "But these treatments do not help women with triple-negative breast cancer. Outcome disparities are therefore likely to increase, because fewer African-American women are candidates for these newer treatments."

Study analysis involved 600 African-American women and more than 1,000 white women diagnosed with breast cancer at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. Another 75 African women diagnosed at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Ghana were included.

Researchers discovered that Ghanaian women with breast cancer were diagnosed at a younger age than American women, with larger tumors, had more advanced cancer and were more likely to have the triple negative type of cancer.

"African ancestry might be associated with other links to hereditary predisposition for particular patterns of breast cancer," Newman said. "We hope that by studying breast cancer in African and African-American women we can identify biomarkers that might be useful for assessing risk or treating triple-negative breast cancer."

The American Cancer Society estimates up to 200,000 Americans who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and 40,000 who will die from the disease.