Science has found a link between the GFC and cancer deaths

The bronze Charging Bull sculpture next to Wall Street. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The GFC did more than try to destroy the world’s financial markets.

Medical researchers have now linked the economic crisis to more than 260,000 additional cancer deaths around the world.

The cause is thought to be the stress of losing jobs and reduced health spending following the 2008 economic slump.

The study, published in the medical journal the Lancet, is the first global analysis to look at the effect of unemployment and changes in healthcare spending on cancer deaths.

“Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide so understanding how economic changes affect cancer survival is crucial,” says lead author Dr Mahiben Maruthappu from Imperial College London.

“We found that increased unemployment was associated with increased cancer mortality, but that universal health coverage protected against these effects. This was especially the case for treatable cancers including breast, prostate and colorectal cancer.”

Researchers at Harvard University, Oxford University, Imperial College London and King’s College London used data from the World Bank and World Health Organisation from 1990 to 2010.

The association between unemployment and cancer mortality was strongest for treatable cancers and the authors say this reinforces the importance of having access to care.

A 1% increase in unemployment was associated with 0.37 additional deaths from all cancers per 100,000 people.

And 1% decrease in public healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP was associated with 0.0053 additional deaths from all cancers per 100,000 people.

Cancer accounted for 8.2 million deaths in 2012 and the number of cases is expected to increase from 14 million in 2012 to 22 million in 2030.

The economic crisis beginning in 2008 saw a substantial rise in unemployment and caused many countries to cut health care spending.

Several studies have shown the impact of these changes on mental and physical health, such as increases in suicide or cardiovascular disease.