Incarceration linked to excess burden of cancer, new study finds

February 22, 2017, St. Michael's Hospital
Dr. Fiona Kouyoumdjian is a researcher at St. Michael's Hospital and McMaster University and lead author of the study. Credit: St. Michael's Hospital

People who spend time in jails and prisons are more likely to develop certain types of cancer than the general population in Ontario, according to a study published today in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

They were also more than 50 per cent more likely to die from cancer than the general population in Ontario, the study found. Men were more than three times as likely as men in the general population to die from head and neck and liver cancer and were three times as likely as women in the general population to die from .

Dr. Fiona Kouyoumdjian, a researcher at St. Michael's Hospital and McMaster University and lead author of the study, said the findings could be the result of high rates of risk factors for cancer in this population.

"We know that people who spend time in jails and prisons in Canada are more likely to use alcohol and tobacco, as well as have infections such as HPV (human papillomavirus) and HIV, which can increase the risk of developing some types of cancer," she said.

The researchers followed almost 50,000 people who were admitted to provincial jails in Ontario in 2000 to study how many people developed cancer and how many people died from cancer over a 12-year period.

Between 2000 and 2012, 2.6 per cent of men and 2.8 per cent of women who spent time in jail or prison were diagnosed with new cancers. The most common types of cancer for men were lung, prostate, colorectal and head and neck, while the most common types of cancer for women were breast, lung and cervical.

Over the followup period, 1.1 per cent of men and 0.9 per cent of women who spent time in jail or prison died from cancer. Adjusted for age, the mortality rate was 1.6 times higher for men and 1.4 times higher for women in this population compared to the general population in Ontario. The mortality rate was higher in men for any cancer, lung cancer, , and head and neck cancer, and in women for lung, liver and head and neck cancers compared to the .

Dr. Kouyoumdjian said the study showed that cancer prevention efforts should include people who have spent time in jails or prisons.

"Incarceration represents a chance to help people improve their health through the provision of services and linkage with programs in the community," she said.

"Specific strategies that could prevent in this population include smoking cessation, vaccination for HPV and HBV, pap screening and treatment for hepatitis C, and these strategies could have a large impact given that many who experience incarceration are quite young."

Explore further: Study finds high death rate among people who are or have been incarcerated

Related Stories

Study finds high death rate among people who are or have been incarcerated

April 27, 2016
People recently released from correctional facilities in Ontario had a risk of dying from a drug overdose 56 times greater than the general population, a new study has found.

UK cancer rates to rise faster among women than men: charity

February 3, 2017
Cancer rates in Britain will rise six times faster among women than men within the next two decades, according to data released on Friday by charity Cancer Research UK.

Breast and cervical cancer screening rates are low in women with advanced kidney disease

December 29, 2016
A new study indicates that many women with advanced kidney disease are not receiving recommended breast or cervical cancer screening, even though they face a higher risk of developing cancer than women in the general population. ...

Study examines rates of common oral infection that can cause mouth cancer

October 26, 2016
Researchers at the University of Derby have carried out the first pilot study in the UK looking at the rates of a common oral infection in young healthy adults which can cause cancer in the mouth.

Alcohol consumption contributes to cancer, even in moderate drinkers

June 27, 2016
Drinking alcohol increases the risk of several types of cancer, and was responsible for 236 cancer deaths under 80 years of age in New Zealand in 2012, according to a new study at the University of Otago.

Breast cancer screening study shows disparities among Ontario immigrant women

May 2, 2016
Regular breast cancer screening can save women's lives by detecting cancer at an early, treatable stage. Mandana Vahabi's research has shown that immigrant women in Ontario have lower breast cancer screening rates overall ...

Recommended for you

What can salad dressing tell us about cancer? Think oil and vinegar

September 20, 2018
Researchers led by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital scientists have identified another way the process that causes oil to form droplets in water may contribute to solid tumors, such as prostate and breast cancer. The ...

Novel biomarker found in ovarian cancer patients can predict response to therapy

September 20, 2018
Despite months of aggressive treatment involving surgery and chemotherapy, about 85 percent of women with high-grade wide-spread ovarian cancer will have a recurrence of their disease. This leads to further treatment, but ...

Testing fluorescent tracers used to help surgeons determine edges of breast cancer tumors

September 20, 2018
A team of researchers with members from institutions in The Netherlands and China has conducted a test of fluorescent tracers meant to aid surgeons performing tumor removal in breast cancer patients. In their paper published ...

Cancer immunotherapy might benefit from previously overlooked immune players

September 20, 2018
Cancer immunotherapy—efforts to boost a patient's own immune system, allowing it to better fight cancer cells on its own—has shown great promise for some previously intractable cancers. Yet immunotherapy doesn't work ...

New way to target advanced breast cancers

September 20, 2018
A cytokine signature found in certain kinds of breast cancer cells can not only serve as a diagnostic tool for HER2-negative cancers but also offer an effective treatment target.

Understanding epilepsy in pediatric tumors

September 20, 2018
Pediatric brain tumors are characterized by frequent complications due to intractable epilepsy compared to adult brain tumors. However, the genetic cause of refractory epilepsy in pediatric brain cancer has not been elucidated ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.