A new study shows that the global recession from 2008 triggered an increase in the number of cancer deaths. It is believed that this was due to unemployment and health-care budget cuts.
The research involved data collected from 70 countries and almost 2 billion people. The links between unemployment, public health budget, and cancer mortality were studied for a period of 20 years, from 1990 to 2010.
The results show that one percent increase in unemployment was connected with 0.37 additional deaths due to cancer in 100,000 people. Moreover, one percent decrease in public care spending brought additional 0.0053 deaths from cancer.
Overall, during the two years of global recession, there were reported 260,000 new cancer deaths. Most of these cases were in the European Union, almost 170,000 deaths, between 2008 and 2010.
Although the results do not show a cause and effect correlation, the authors say they were able to determine a chronological connection which would sustain a causal effect.
Other studies had also shown that global recession and the economic changes it brought had a negative impact on public health. Among the subjects of these studies was the increased risk for suicide or the increasing number of cardiovascular diseases.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death all over the planet. The connection between economic factors and survival rates is critical to understand in order to improve the treatment strategy.
Universal health coverage was a factor that helped against effects of unemployment. The results were positive especially in the case of treatable cancers, such as colorectal, prostate and breast cancer. Treatable cancers have a survival rate of over 50%.
An author of the study suggested that access to health care can be provided by employers, and thus avoid maximizing expenses for the patient. Still, without employment, patients could not benefit from an early diagnosis and be subjects to poor treatment.
This study is reinforcing the idea that governments should implement universal health coverage. Treatments and prevention strategies will help to reduce the number of deaths due to cancer.
In the US, providing coverage for cancer treatments may contribute to improving treatments and continue the research on the disease. The authors say that government-sustained cancer care will produce a big return on investment in the long term.
Cancer reported 8.2 million deaths in 2012, and the number is expected to increase to 22 million by 2030.
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