Where You Live Influences the Risk of Developing Cancer for Older People


In a study to be reported in the January, 2011 issue American Journal of Public Health researchers concluded that older people who live in racially segregated high crime neighborhoods have a higher risk of developing cancer than others with similar health and demographic backgrounds who live in less segregated safer areas.

Subjects included more than 20,000 Americans over age 50 from a nationally representative longitudinal study and data included measurements of self-reported individual health histories, matched with multiple indicators of the social, economic, and physical conditions of the neighborhoods of the subjects.

The chance of developing cancer was 31% higher for men and 25% higher for women living in the segregates high crime areas than those living in less segregated lower crime areas. They also founbd that women in the segregated high crime areas had a 20% greater probability of developing heart problems but there was no difference for men. The researchers found “segregation and crime increases the chance of developing cancer even after controlling for socioeconomic resources of individuals and the neighborhood.” Looking at levels of environmental pollution did not change the findings. Likewise, the effect of segregated high crime areas on cancer development were the same for both blacks and whites. More information is available at:

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