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Be Smart: Avoid Cancer

In a study performed in 2010 in the Fall issue of Online Journal of Rural Nursing and Health Care, David Gross found that lung cancer of Appalachian area respondents was higher than that of non-Appalachian respondents.  The Appalachian area is known for its lower levels of education and socioeconomic status. In another study, “US Mortality Rates for Oral Cavity and Pharyngeal Cancer by Educational Attainment,” conducted in 2011, the researchers said that “Mortality rates for patients with oral cavity and pharynx cancers decreased significantly among men and women with more than 12 years of education, whereas rates increased among white men with less than 12 years of education.”

“Our study shows socioeconomic factors, as measured by years of education, play an important role in the risk of dying of cancer,” said Elizabeth Ward, PhD, director of surveillance research at the Cancer Society.  “Just because we’re measuring education doesn’t mean we think education is the direct reason,” for differences between educated and non educated groups.

Education is a gateway to overall well-being, but it is not the sole determining factor in cancer mortality rates.  With an increased level of educational attainment, it is also expected that a patient will have access to better health care coverage and insurance, as well as an interest in research studies to prevent certain cancers from occurring.

Individuals with a higher level of educational attainment are more likely to have access to better medical facilities, have higher paying jobs, and access to more cancer prevention resources.  While these are all facets involved in a cancer diagnosis, there are mitigating factors such as genetics and lifestyle which must be taken into account.

People who have 12 years of education or less are also more likely to engage in riskier behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and improper diet.  They will eat high sodium fried foods and otherwise have a cancer-promoting diet.   Being more educated does not necessarily mean that the risks of cancer are completely eliminated, as diagnoses of cancer can be witnessed across gender, race, and socioeconomic thresholds.

While there is a correlation between educational attainment and the likelihood of getting cancer, educational levels are not the sole factor in receiving a cancer diagnosis.  Those who do have more than 16 years of education are more likely to have better jobs, better access to health care, and other advantages than a person with a high school education receives.

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-BS Pharm, PharmD, RPh

Dr. Paul Zickler is a graduate of the University of Wester Ontario in 1972. After graduating from the faculty of medicine, Dr. Zickler practiced as an Emergency Physician for 18 years. He has then operated ambulatory medical and travel clinics for 12 years. Dr. Zickler has become an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of British Columbia, a Director of Professional Programs for the Justice Institute of British Columbia (paramedic academy), a principal investigator for Phase 2 and 3 studies researching vaccines, and a founding member of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association. Dr. Zickler is passionate about combining western prescription medicine and natural medicines.

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