The gap in cancer death rates between college graduates and those who only went to high school is widening, the American Cancer Society reports. People with college degrees are seeing a significant drop in cancer death rates, while those who have spent less time in school are seeing more modest improvements or sometimes none at all, says a researcher. More than a third of premature cancer deaths could have been avoided if everyone had a college degree, cancer society officials estimated.
Experts believe that the differences have to do with the education itself, but also how much people earn and where they live, among other factors. Studies have suggested that less educated people are more likely to do risky things with their health. They are more likely to smoke, drink, and overeat. As for survival after diagnosis, the least-educated are often poor people without good health insurance. Studies have found that people with no health insurance are more likely to be diagnosed when their cancer is advanced stage, and they are also less likely to receive standard treatment. (Read more American Cancer Society stories.)