Cancer And Class

What this article does not say is that people in lower socioeconomic classes have more cancer and die of it more often than people in higher classes:

Nearly Half Of Cancer Deaths Linked To Preventable Risk Factors: Study, ABCNews, 21 November 2017

It’s not just lack of screening and inadequate healthcare, it’s the whole phalanx of living conditions experienced by lower classes … poor housing, diet, education, social support, sanitation, living conditions. Crime, drugs, addiction. Lessening the incidence of cancer means, at least, closing the income gap. It’s really important, but it’s not discussed. We need more public health and less blaming.

This is a good read on the topic. It doesn’t lose its import because of its age. If anything, it’s more relevant today since the socioeconomic gap has widened in the last 25 years.

Poverty And Cancer, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, April 1992

In discussing poverty, one enters a territory in which the borders between health, social sciences, and politics are rather indistinct. Sigerist stated, on different occasions, that “In any given society the incidence of illness is largely determined by economic factors” and that “the problem of public health is ultimately political.” He also stated earlier that “poverty is the chief cause of disease”. The latter statement, which appears to be in line with the sociological theory of epidemics that was supported last century by many first class scientists such as Virchow, may contain a large degree of exaggeration, but no one can deny that the chances of survival and remaining in good health are greater if you are rich than if you are not, In a slightly more shaded and more acceptable statement, McKeown proposed that “poverty is not a direct cause of disease, but is the main determinate of influences that lead to disease.”

Of course there is an element of personal responsibility, but you have to make sure people have the ability to chose first. That’s the role of public health.

We should also press for acceptance of the principle that a basic and irreplaceable element of public health policy is the improvement of living standards and that much improvement is within the reach of government policy.

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