September 04, 2014
Cancer shadow from childhood guts ache
A health researcher says childhood poverty among Maori is casting a long shadow in terms of susceptibility to stomach cancer later in life.
Diane Sarfati was part of a University of Otago, Wellington study published in the international Gastric Journal that found Maori were two to three times more likely to develop stomach cancer than non-Maori New Zealanders, and 27 percent less likely to survive from it.
She says Maori are less likely to have surgery performed by a specialist upper gastrointestinal surgeon and less likely to be treated in a main centre, which affects the survival rate.
They are also likely to be suffering from other conditions.
She says the higher risk of developing cancer has been linked to childhood infection with the H Pylori bacterium that causes chronic inflammation of the inner lining of the stomach.
"H Pylori infection is related to things like overcrowding in childhood and deprivation so it's one of those things that, depending on the circumstances you were living as a child, it can cast a long shadow. If you were living in overcrowded conditions or living with childhood poverty you are more likly to have this H Pylori infection which increases your risk of stomach cancer'" Ms Sarfati says.
Since most stomach cancers are picked up at an advanced stage, resources would be better put into prevention efforts which prioritise the needs of Maori.
FOR THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH DIANE SARFATI CLICK ON THE LINK
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