Increase in Prostate Cancer Deaths Linked With Unemployment

Economic downturn associated with cancer mortality.

Economic downturn associated with cancer mortality.

Unemployment can not only impact people financially, in the case of cancer patients economic hardships can increase their risk of death.

A study published in the journal ecancermedicalscience found that increases in unemployment is associated with significant growth in prostate cancer mortality. The results showed that changes in unemployment, particularly during the recession of the late 2000s, have contributed to excess deaths from treatable diseases such as prostate cancer.

This effect continued for at least 5 years following a 1% increase in unemployment, according to the study. The researchers also sought to determine whether this was a result of unemployed patients belonging to social groups more likely to experience prostate cancer mortality.

The results showed that the trend persists even after controlling for economic factors, infrastructure, hospital resources, and health care spending. The researchers hypothesize that the correlation is likely due to factors influenced by macroeconomics, including nutrition changes, societal challenges, and psychological outcomes.

"There are two broad implications emerging from this study. First, policies that support employment may have positive knock-on effects on mortality rates from a treatable disease such as prostate cancer,” study author Johnathan Watkins of King's College London said in a press release. "Second, healthcare professionals should be aware of the additional risks entailed by unemployment, and facilitate access of care to this population."

The study also found that initiatives to boost employment may help to reduce prostate cancer mortality through the economic downturn.

"Both policy makers and clinicians can work together to mitigate the health outcome effects of unemployment,” Watkins concluded.