Education Linked to Brain Tumor Risk




book-791884_1280

Education and socioeconomic status have been linked with cancer outcomes, but a new study now links higher education with the development of certain types of cancer.

The large observational study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, reports that a high level of education is associated with an increased risk of brain tumors. The study is based on data from 4.3 million Swedish adults who were monitored between 1993 and 2010. Overall, 5,735 men and 7,101 women developed a brain tumor during the observation period.

Men with at least three years of university-level education had a 19% greater risk of developing gliomas than men with only a compulsory level of education (nine years). Women with the same level of education had a 23% increased risk of gliomas and a 16% increased risk of meningiomas. Marital status and amount of disposable income only slightly affected the risk among men but not among women. Single men had a lower risk of glioma but a higher risk of meningiomas. Occupation also influenced brain tumor risks among men and women: men in professional and management roles had a 20% increased risk of gliomas and a 50% increased risk of acoustic neuromas; women in these roles had a 26% increased risk of gliomas and a 14% increased risk of meningiomas.

Socioeconomic status has been associated with prognosis and outcomes in many types of cancer, as well as the development of breast cancer, childhood leukemia, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Socioeconomic status and education level also affect attitudes toward cancer screening and treatment and timeliness of disease presentation. Age, military service record, and insurance coverage have also been associated with cancer risks and outcomes. The reasons behind the associations are unclear, but some risk factors have been hypothesized such as rates of atopy and allergies, cell phone use, and body measurements.

While no firm cause-and-effect conclusions can be drawn from an observational study, the authors of the new study claim that the results are consistent and that examining a large population gives strength to the results. More evidence is needed to confirm if education is, in fact, a true risk factor for developing brain tumors.

References

Borugian MJ, Spinelli JJ, Mezei G, Wilkins R, Abanto Z, & McBride ML (2005). Childhood leukemia and socioeconomic status in Canada. Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.), 16 (4), 526-31 PMID: 15951671

Clarke CA, Glaser SL, Keegan TH, & Stroup A (2005). Neighborhood socioeconomic status and Hodgkin’s lymphoma incidence in California. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology, 14 (6), 1441-7 PMID: 15941953

Kasl RA, Brinson PR, & Chambless LB (2016). Socioeconomic status does not affect prognosis in patients with glioblastoma multiforme. Surgical neurology international, 7 (Suppl 11) PMID: 27217966

Lehrer S, Green S, & Rosenzweig KE (2016). Affluence and Breast Cancer. The breast journal PMID: 27296617

Mezei G, Borugian MJ, Spinelli JJ, Wilkins R, Abanto Z, & McBride ML (2006). Socioeconomic status and childhood solid tumor and lymphoma incidence in Canada. American journal of epidemiology, 164 (2), 170-5 PMID: 16524952

Porter AB, Lachance DH, & Johnson DR (2015). Socioeconomic status and glioblastoma risk: a population-based analysis. Cancer causes & control : CCC, 26 (2), 179-85 PMID: 25421378

Quaife SL, Winstanley K, Robb KA, Simon AE, Ramirez AJ, Forbes LJ, Brain KE, Gavin A, & Wardle J (2015). Socioeconomic inequalities in attitudes towards cancer: an international cancer benchmarking partnership study. European journal of cancer prevention : the official journal of the European Cancer Prevention Organisation (ECP), 24 (3), 253-60 PMID: 25734238

Image via kaboompics / Pixabay.

Jennifer Gibson, PharmD

Jennifer Gibson, PharmD, is a practicing clinical pharmacist and medical writer/editor with experience in researching and preparing scientific publications, developing public relations materials, creating educational resources and presentations, and editing technical manuscripts. She is the owner of Excalibur Scientific, LLC.
See All Posts By The Author

Do not miss out ever again. Subscribe to get our newsletter delivered to your inbox a few times a month.