University graduates at higher risk of brain tumor diagnosis

  • Recent study shows link between higher education and the increased likelihood of being diagnosed with brain tumor
  • There is a 19% increased risk for university-educated men, and 23% for females
  • Researchers explained that the link to tumor diagnosis and people with higher education or income is having a better awareness of symptoms

A new research has established an association between a university degree and the likelihood of being diagnosed with brain tumor.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, conducted to study the connection between socioeconomic position and three types of tumor: glioma, which is the most common; meningioma, which is usually benign; and acoustic neuroma, a non-cancerous brain tumor.

“There is a 19% increased risk that university-educated men could be diagnosed with glioma,” said Amal Khanolkar; lead author of the study.

He added that for women with university degrees, the risk is higher and is at 23%.

Interestingly, an even higher risk gap was found between low-income manual laborers and high-income men and women who did not work with their hands.

Researchers also discovered that men in professional jobs or managerial roles were 20% more likely be diagnosed with glioma, and 26% for their female counterpart.

The nationwide study looked at 4.3 million Swedes, born between 1911 and 1961.They were followed from 1993 to 2010 and studied for primary brain tumors, as per an article published by Independent; with results showing 7,100 women and 5,700 men from the participants were diagnosed with brain tumors.

The researchers, explaining the connection, suggested people who have better educations and jobs could be more likely to seek medical help, as a result of being more aware of symptoms.

“In spite of my degrees, I find these results deeply reassuring. For example, in each group of 3,000 men of the lowest educational level, we would expect five to be diagnosed with a glioma over 18 years. In 3,000 men with the highest educational level, we expect six gliomas,”said Sir David Spiegelhalter; a Cambridge University professor.

“This is a classic example of where ‘big data’ can find results that are of ‘statistical’ but not of practical significance,” he added.