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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAB Researcher Analyzes Association between Lifecourse SES and Cancer Risk Factors

Dr. Tomi Akinyemiju, assistant professor in the department of epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, recently conducted research examining risk factors for cancer — such as smoking, alcohol, body mass index (BMI), nutrition, and physical activity — linked to individual, parental, and lifecourse socioeconomic status (SES) among low- to middle-income women in China, India, Mexico, Russia, and South Africa.

[Photo: Dr. Tomi Akinyemiju]

In the study, the researchers used data from the 2007 WHO Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE) pertaining to 22,283 women, aged 18 years and older. Of the participants, 34 percent lacked a formal education (with 73 percent of their mothers also lacking formal educations) and 73 percent had low lifecourse SES. Dr. Akinyemiju and her team observed that “low SES women were almost 4 times more likely to exceed alcohol use guidelines (OR: 3.86, 95% CI: 1.23-12.10), and 68% more likely to smoke (OR: 1.68, 95% CI: 1.01-2.80) compared with higher SES. Women with low SES mothers and fathers were more likely to have poor nutrition (Mothers OR: 1.59, 95% CI: 1.17-2.16; Fathers OR: 1.33, 95% CI: 1.11-1.59) and more likely to smoke (Mothers OR: 1.46, 95% CI: 1.15-1.87; Fathers OR: 2.17, 95% CI: 1.80-2.63) compared with those with high SES parents. Women with stable low lifecourse SES were more likely to smoke (OR: 2.55, 95% CI: 1.47-4.43), while those with declining lifecourse SES were more likely to exceed alcohol use guidelines (OR: 3.63, 95% CI: 1.07-12.34).”

The investigators determined that risk factors varied considerably by lifecourse SES in the middle-income countries studied. This has important implications for cancer risk since health behaviors are shaped from childhood; in addition, there are important etiologic windows in early life during which health behaviors influence the future development of cancer. These results indicate that successful cancer prevention strategies focused on modifiable cancer risk factors must be customized to particular subgroups.

UAB co-investigators are graduate student trainee and MPH student Dr. Kemi Ogunsina and graduate research trainee Ms. Swati Sakhuja, both in the department of epidemiology.

“Lifecourse Socioeconomic Status and Cancer-Related Risk Factors: Analysis of the WHO Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE)” was published online in November 2016 in the International Journal of Cancer.

Journal article: