More cancer deaths seen in less-educated Americans

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - People with at least some education beyond high school have a lower cancer death risk than those with less education, according to a U.S. study published on Tuesday

The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found that the more education people had, the less likely they were to die of cancer, particularly black and white men and white women.

Mortality rates specifically for lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancers were strongly associated with education level among these groups, the researchers said.

Researchers led by Jessica Albano of the American Cancer Society in Atlanta analyzed about 140,000 U.S. cancer deaths among adults aged 25 to 64 in 2001.

They found the difference in mortality for all groups was most pronounced for those with 12 or fewer years of education compared to people with more than 12 years of education.

The researchers said this may reflect associations between lower education levels and risk factors for cancer death like smoking, likelihood of undergoing cancer screening tests and access to health care.

“Death rates for all cancers combined and the four cancer sites studied were generally higher among blacks than among whites with similar levels of education,” they wrote.

“Higher cancer mortality among blacks compared with whites at similar levels of education likely reflects socioeconomic disparities in work, wealth, income, housing, overall standard of living and access to medical care,” they added.