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Childhood social class and cancer incidence: Results of the globe study

  • Biology
  • Economics
  • Education


Despite increased recognition of the importance of investigating socio-economic inequalities in health from a life course perspective, little is known about the influence of childhood socio-economic position (SEP) on cancer incidence. The authors studied the association between father's occupation and adult cancer incidence by linking information from the longitudinal GLOBE study with the regional population-based Eindhoven Cancer Registry (the Netherlands) over a period of 14 years. In 1991, 18,973 participants (response rate 70.1%) of this study responded to a postal questionnaire, including questions on SEP in youth and adulthood. Respondents above the age of 24 were included (NÂ =Â 12,978). Cox regression was used to calculate hazard ratios (HR) for all cancers as well as for the five most frequently occurring cancers by respondent's educational level or occupational class, and by father's occupational class (adjusted for respondent's education and occupation). Respondents with a low educational level showed an increased risk of all cancers, lung and breast cancer (in women). Respondents with a low adult occupational level showed an increased risk of lung cancer and a reduced risk of basal cell carcinoma. After adjustment for adult education and occupation, respondents whose father was in a lower occupational class showed an increased risk of colorectal cancer as compared to those with a father in the highest social class. In contrast, respondents whose father was in a lower occupational class, showed a decreased risk of basal cell carcinoma as compared to those with a father in the highest occupational class. The association between childhood SEP and cancer incidence is less consistent than the association between adult SEP and cancer incidence, but may exist for colorectal cancer and basal cell carcinoma.

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