Azara Blog: UK North-South divide in cancer

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Date published: 2005/07/05

The BBC says:

New cancer maps reveal people in the north of England and Scotland are far more likely to get certain cancers than those living in the South.

The Office for National Statistics "Cancer Atlases" for the 1990s show an obvious North-South divide for cancers.

Scots and Northerners are more prone to lung and stomach cancer, which appear to be linked to smoking and alcohol use as well as socio-economic deprivation.

Cancer prevention experts said the data showed deprived areas needed targeting.

The ONS estimates that over 25,000 of the cancers and 17,000 of the cancer deaths could be preventable - around three quarters by helping smokers quit and drinkers cut down on their alcohol consumption.

The incidence and death rates for cancers of the lung, larynx, lip, mouth and pharynx - all known to be related to heavy smoking and alcohol intake - were lower than average in the south and midlands of England, but higher than average across the north of England and Scotland between 1991 and 2000.

Geographical patterns for bladder, kidney, oesophageal (gullet) and stomach cancers were similar.

Scotland also came out worse for colorectal cancer, along with Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Rates of cervical cancer were higher than average in the north of England, urban west midlands and, again, in Scotland, but were not related to local cancer screening differences.

There was little geographical variation in the incidence and death rates of breast, ovary and prostate cancers, however. The ONS looked at 21 different cancers overall.

The incidence of all cancers combined in Scotland, England and Wales rose gradually over the 1970s and 1980s then levelled off in the 1990s to over 270,000, partly due to better diagnosis, says the ONS.

Hardly a great shock. And hardly a shock that the "experts" want more money targeted on deprived areas, you did not need to do any research to hear them say that, just turn on Radio 4 any day of the week. Fortunately the BBC was not stupid enough this time around to suggest that the "solution" was for everybody to move to the south of England (that would be confusing correlation and causation, which the BBC does all the time).

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