Study Reveals Higher Cancer Risk for Low-Income Individuals in the Netherlands

Study Reveals Higher Cancer Risk for Low-Income Individuals in the Netherlands

Learn about the link between income levels and cancer risk in the Netherlands through eye-opening research by the IKNL. 

Groundbreaking Research Uncovers Stark Disparities

In a revealing study by the Netherlands Comprehensive Cancer Organisation (IKNL), a clear link has been established between lower income levels and an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer. 

This study, the first in a series of three aimed at exploring the relationship between socioeconomic status and cancer, sheds light on the health inequalities that persist in Dutch society.

Historically, it has been known that individuals with lower incomes tend to live shorter lives by an average of seven years and experience poor health conditions 22 years earlier compared to their wealthier counterparts.

 The IKNL’s findings further emphasize how this socioeconomic divide extends to cancer risk.

Disproportionate Risks Across Socioeconomic Lines

The research highlights that people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are more susceptible to a range of cancers, including lung, liver, stomach, and head-neck cancers. 

Moreover, cases of “primary tumour unknown,” where the original site of cancer cannot be identified, are more prevalent among this group. On the other hand, higher-income individuals are more likely to face skin, breast, prostate, and testicular cancers.

Of all the types studied, liver cancer was found to be three times more common among the lower-income group, followed closely by stomach cancer and “primary tumour unknown,” head-neck cancer, and lung cancer. 

Conversely, skin cancer is notably more common among those with higher incomes.

Lifestyle Factors at Play

The study points to several lifestyle-related factors, such as smoking, unhealthy diets, and obesity, as significant contributors to the increased cancer risk observed in lower-income groups. 

These behaviours are well-known risk factors for many types of cancer.

Early Detection and Prevention

Despite these grim findings, the study also notes that the stage of cancer at diagnosis does not differ much between income levels for most cancers. 

However, for cancers like cervical, breast, colorectal, skin, and prostate cancer, early detection is more common among higher-income individuals, thanks in part to their higher participation in preventive programs like screenings and HPV vaccinations.

Call for Action

The IKNL urges the government to fund policies to narrow these health gaps. 

It also calls on individuals to lead healthier lives and to engage in available preventive measures, including screenings and vaccinations.

What is Next?

This research is just the beginning, with two more publications expected to focus on treatment and the quality of life across different income brackets. 

The findings highlight a pressing need for targeted interventions to bridge the health inequality gap in the Netherlands.

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