Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bridging the Gap

While progress is being made in the fight against cancer, a new report from the American Cancer Society shows that there are still disparities in cancer death rates between people of lower and higher socioeconomic statuses.

Using education as a measuring stick, the study found that people with a high school education or less died at a rate of up to five times higher than those with at least four years of college education. Among men, those with less education died of cancer at rates more than two and a half times than those of men with college degrees. These numbers among women were almost identical.

Why is this the case? Studies have shown that people with less education - often those in lower socioeconomic situations - are more likely to engage in risky health behaviors, such as smoking, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity. Likewise, these populations are less likely to have access to the care they need and screenings for early detection.

It is our duty to continue to address these disparities, which has been a longstanding commitment of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. While we launch new research and discover new treatments, we must also look for ways to deliver all of these discoveries to every single person, regardless of where they are in life.

-Ed Partridge, M.D.

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