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Scottish ethnic minorities see lower cancer rates


In Scotland, cancer is one of the top three causes of death, along with coronary heart disease and stroke. Over the past 10 years diagnoses of cancer have been increasing, with over 29,000 people diagnosed with cancer in 2010. However, recently published research from the University of Edinburgh found that people from ethnic minority groups in Scotland have a lower cancer rate than White Scots.

The study combined data from the NHS, Scottish Cancer Registry and the 2001 Scottish Census. They found that rates of cancer were lowest amongst people from an Indian background and highest amongst White Scotts. This is in keeping with previous research that showed that cancer rates in Scotland are amongst the highest in Europe. 

The Scottish Pakistani community had the lowest rates of individual cancers, including lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancer. Cancer rates of ethnic minority groups normally become similar to the local population with time but this study shows that the cancer rates of ethnic minority groups in Scotland are still lower than that of White Scots.

This study has important implications for public health policy on cancer care, prevention and screening. Professor Raj Bhopal of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Population Health Sciences said, 'There is much to learn here that could benefit the whole population, which could improve everyone’s health.'

The study, Cancer by Ethnic Group in Scotland, is published in the BMJ Open.


Michelle Williams


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