Experiencing Parental Cancer As Child Can Have Lasting Impact

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Researchers examined parental cancer experience and the correlation with future educational attainment and income.
Researchers examined parental cancer experience and the correlation with future educational attainment and income.

(HealthDay News) -- Individuals who experience parental cancer as children or adolescents have a higher risk of low educational attainment and attenuated income at age 30 years, according to a study published online Aug. 20 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Anne Cathrine Joergensen, from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and colleagues conducted a register-linkage, prospective study of children born in Denmark from 1978 through 1999 and their parents. Parental cancer experience was identified before child ages 15 to 18, and the correlation with primary school achievement, educational attainment, and income in early adult life was examined.

The researchers found that the final grade point average in ninth grade was slightly lower, while low educational attainment risk was higher, among children who had experienced parental cancer (relative risk ratio, 1.20); in addition, income at age 30 years was attenuated (relative risk ratio, 1.11). In subgroups of children whose parent had a severe cancer type or if the parent died of cancer, analyses suggested substantial deterioration in achievements for all outcomes (low education relative risk ratio, 1.52 and 1.61, respectively).

"Educational and socioeconomic attainments in early adulthood were affected negatively in individuals who had experienced parental cancer as children or adolescents," the authors write. "The associations appeared stronger the more severe the cancer was."

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