According to a new report from the American Cancer Society, the gap in cancer deaths between college graduates and those whose education ended with high school is widening.
The latest figures show that college graduates are seeing a significant drop in cancer death rates, while people wo have spent less time in school are seeing smaller improvements, or even none at all. Those with a high school diploma or less died at a rate of four to five times more frequently than those with at least four years of college.
Men saw the largest difference - the least educated of whom died of cancer at rates more than 2½ times that of men with college degrees. The women's figures aren't as dramatic, but still saw a wide gap between those with college degrees and those without. For both sexes, the gap was most evident for lung cancer.
To be clear, the American Cancer Society is not suggesting that education itself is the direct reason for the different cancer rates between the two groups. Rather, they stated that they use education as a measuring stick because death certificates include that information and experts believe that the educational differences could also be linked with how much people earn and where they live.
Similar studies have found that level of education can be linked to how often people engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and overeating. Behaviors that could raise one's risk for developing cancer. And it's no great stretch to imagine that those with less education may be less likely to have health insurance and thus also less likely to have suspicisous behaviors checked out by a doctor until it's too late.