Cancer deaths blamed on 2008 recession

A new study says the global economic crisis of 2008 may have caused 500,000 cancer deaths.

The study in the medical journal Lancet says a loss of jobs and cuts in health care shut out people seeking help for such easily diagnosed and treatable cancers as prostate cancer for men, breast cancer for women and colon cancer for both genders.

The authors of the study reached their conclusions by calculating the rise in cancer deaths for every 1 percent rise in the unemployment rate combined with the drop in health care spending.

Lead author Mahiben Maruthappu says one conclusion from the study is that cuts in universal health care spending cost lives.

“If health systems experience funding constraints, this must be matched by efficiency improvements to ensure patients are offered the same level of care regardless of economic environment or unemployment status,” he said.

The study concludes that the association between the rise in cancer deaths and unemployment disappears when universal health care is available.

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