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Poor people 70% more likely to get lung, stomach, and cervical cancers

In Ireland, lung, stomach, head and neck, and cervical cancers are all more common in areas of higher unemployment and lower levels of education.

Image: Cancer patient via Shutterstock

POORER AND MARGINALISED groups in society are 70 per cent more likely to get some cancers.

The Irish Cancer Society and the Society of the St Vincent de Paul is warning that action is needed to close the health inequality gap.

Factors such as the level of education, income, employment and living conditions can all influence cancer risk and survival.

In Ireland, lung, stomach, head and neck, and cervical cancers are all more common in areas of higher unemployment and lower levels of education.

Men in areas with the poorest education levels have a 32 per cent greater risk of lung cancer than men living in areas with the highest level, while women have a 23 per cent greater risk.

Women in areas with the lowest education levels had a 66 per cent greater risk of cervical cancer than those in areas with the highest level of educational attainment.

Men in the most densely populated areas had a 53 per cent greater risk of developing head and neck cancer than men in less densely populated areas.

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, international expert on inequalities in health and director of the University College London Institute of Heath Equity said , “We know that half of all cancers are preventable by means of healthier living. But an individual’s ability to act on this information is shaped by social conditions acting through the life course.”

“If we are to have any hope of reducing high cancer rates among poorer communities, we have to recognise and tackle the social and economic factors which impact on people’s health. We have to make sure that everyone, no matter where they live or how much money they have, gets the same high quality cancer treatment,” said John McCormack, CEO of the Irish Cancer Society.

Well-off ‘more likely to have cervical cancer screening’ – except in Northern Ireland>

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