New UCL study finds university graduates more prone to brain tumours

Findings from a new report, which was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, suggest that gliomas are more common among people who are university-educated.

The study, with researchers from University College London and Stockholm's Karolinska Institute, used data from 4.3 million people in Sweden who were 32 to 82 when the researchers first began to track them in 1993.

Researchers found that university-level educated men were 19% more likely to develop gliomas than those who were not.

The study also highlighted a surprising statistic among women educated to the same level; the risk was 23% higher for glioma, and 16% higher for meningioma.

“This study found consistent associations between indicators of higher socioeconomic position and increased risk of glioma in both sexes," said Dr Amal Khanolkar, lead author at UCL.

However, though the study was huge in scope, the research team stressed that this was an observational study that at present could not highlight conclusions about cause and effect or potential lifestyle influences on developing brain tumours.

Our own survey of more than 1,000 people living with a brain tumour found a link between earnings and speed of diagnosis.

Those with a household income of less than £20,000 were more likely than those earning over £40,000 to see a doctor more than five times and to wait for over a year between their first visit and their diagnosis (Finding Myself in Your Hands: The Reality of Brain Tumour Treatment and Care).

Women were also more than twice as likely as men to wait over a year for a diagnosis after first seeking medical advice for their symptoms.

We await with interest Dr Khanolkar's findings in relation to ethnic differences in risk for brain tumours and potential differences in survival.

In the meantime, we will continue our research continues into the causes of brain tumours and the factors that affect diagnosis times.

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