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Unsafe neighborhoods may contribute to cancer risk

Category: Cancer Detection and Tumor Markers

The neighborhood where older individuals live may be a strong determinant of their need for cancer testing, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

A team of researchers from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey found that older people who live in racially segregated neighborhoods where there are high rates of crime were between 25 and 31 percent more likely to develop cancer than individuals living in safer neighborhoods.

The study confirms previous findings, which show that unsafe neighborhoods may contribute to an increased risk of diabetes, Alzheimer's and other chronic illnesses.

For the study, researchers examined medical data on more than 20,000 older individuals from across the country. They compared participants who had similar medical histories, but came from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

"The remarkable similarity in the size and strength of this relationship for both men and women is quite surprising given differences in the types of cancer each gender develops," said Vicki Freedman, who led the study. "This suggests that a nonspecific biological mechanism may be involved, possibly a stress response that interrupts the body's ability to fight the development of cancer cells."
 

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