Those in Israel’s wealthiest communities have a higher chance of beating cancer than their less affluent compatriots, according to recent studies. An independent Israeli think organization called the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies analyzed cancer data from all throughout the country and published a report on Sunday outlining some striking tendencies.
“Each year, there are 387 deaths from cancer per 100,000 people on average,” Taub Center researcher Prof. Alex Weinreb told The Times of Israel. “There are substantial differences between middle-income and high-income areas. In middle-income areas, there are about 420 cancer deaths per 100,000, and low-income areas are similar.
“But as you go from low-income to higher-income, death rates go down more and more. As the socioeconomic status areas increases, cancer deaths are rarer,” he said.
“In areas that are in the top ten percent of socioeconomic status, like Shoham, Givatayim, and Ramat Hasharon, the cancer death rate is around 340 per 100,000 people, just under 20 percent lower than in the middle-income areas and 12 percent lower than the national average,” Weinreb explained.
Givatayim, Hod HaSharon, Modiin-Maccabim-Re’ut, Tel Mond, Even Yehuda, and Gannei Tikva were also among the lowest incidence areas for cancer fatalities. Using data that is already available to the public, Weinreb was shocked by the outcome. Although he had anticipated some inequality along socioeconomic lines, he had not anticipated it to be so pronounced.
He acknowledged that the cause of such a striking contrast was unclear but offered two hypotheses. One is that the data points to a picture of major health inequalities, where the wealthy have access to better healthcare (including some private care) and are better versed in navigating the complexities of public health systems.
“Any time you have such a picture as we’re seeing it’s likely, though not certain, to be related to health inequalities,” Weinreb said.
Alternatively, the disparity in cancer mortality rates may be due to regional differences. Most of Israel’s affluent communities can be found in its geographic center, close to a number of excellent medical facilities. A wider variety of services is not available elsewhere, and patients must travel greater distances to visit major medical centers.
It’s possible that “early detection” is impacted by “differences between living in Israel’s core and Israel’s periphery,” Weinreb added. Patients in the center of Israel have an easier and faster time getting medical appointments than those living in the so-called periphery. As a result, we may have a better chance of preventing or treating the condition if it is detected sooner.
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Weinreb co-authored the report with Professor Nadav Davidovitch and Nir Kaidar of the Taub Center. According to Davidovitch, more research is needed into the findings and other trends in the way cancer affect different populations. Weinreb argued that with a greater understanding of these, the health service may take steps to mitigate the effects of the underlying causes that put some people at a higher risk.
Davidovitch stated, “Cancer morbidity and mortality is one of the biggest concerns facing the healthcare system, including in Israel.
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