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Poorer women in UK have sixth-highest cancer death rates in Europe: WHO

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A consultant studies a mammogram at Derby city hospital, the UK. (Photo by PA)

Women from deprived backgrounds in the United Kingdom are at higher risk of dying from cancer compared to their counterparts in other European countries and better-off women in Britain, a new World Health Organization (WHO) study finds.

The study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the WHO’s specialist cancer body, reveals that poorer women in Britain have some of the highest death rates from cancer of the lungs, liver, bladder and oesophagus (foodpipe) in Europe.

The study examines socioeconomic inequalities in mortality rates for 17 different types of cancer between 1990 and 2015.

IARC experts led by Dr Salvatore Vaccarella analyzed data from 17 European countries, and found that Britain had the sixth-worst record for the number of poor women dying of cancer.

The UK, however, has a better record on poor men dying of cancer compared with their counterparts in many of the other 16 countries. It ranked fifth overall, the research team, that used educational attainment as an indicator of deprivation, found.

“Among men, the UK shows an intermediate level of educational inequalities in all cancers combined, among the European countries included," Vaccarella said.

“However, among women, the UK shows among the highest educational inequalities in cancer, behind Denmark, the Czech Republic, Poland and Norway."

Meanwhile, the study, which is based on data collected for adults aged 40 to 79, found that far more poor than rich people die of cancer across Europe.

“Everywhere, lower-educated individuals systematically suffer from higher mortality rates for nearly all cancer types, relative to their more highly educated counterparts, with a social gradient of increasing risk of death with diminishing education level,” the study concludes.

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