Children from well-off families at greater risk of developing cancer of the blood, bone and tumours
Children from wealthier areas are more likely to develop cancers such as leukaemia, scientists have claimed.
According to a report by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE), youngsters from well-off families are at greater risk of developing diseases such as cancer of the blood, bone and organ tumours. Childhood cancer rates are almost a third higher in some of the wealthier counties of the UK than they are in urban areas.
The study, which looked at 32,000 cases of childhood cancer in Britain between 1969 and 1993, also found that children from rural areas were also at a higher risk of developing these diseases.
Although there is inconclusive evidence why these children are at higher risk, scientists believe one explanation may be that children brought up in too clean an environment develop an impaired immune system.
Commenting on the findings, COMARE chairman Alex Elliott said: "If you're wealthy, you tend to live in a big house with more land around it, and have contact with fewer people.
"But if you are from a low socioeconomic group and live cheek-by-jowl then you come into contact with a lot more people and either your immune system is changed a lot early on or you are less vulnerable to the population mixing theory," he said.
The report revealed that there are significant variations across the country, with the highest incidence rates of leukaemia in the South West and the lowest in Wales.
Rich areas such as Dorset, Gloucestershire, Kent and Surrey had leukaemia rates higher than other areas such as Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Glamorgan.
However, the COMARE study did also show up data inconsistent with the theory that too clean an environment can be detrimental to the development of a healthy immune system and the possible susceptibility to developing cancer.
Data from Cornwall, for instance, showed that there was a high level of childhood leukaemia despite the area not being affluent.
The news that the ABI and British Medical Association (BMA) agreement on GP report (GPR) fees has broken down will usher in a period of uncertainty.
Lack of innovation investment in the UK insurance market has been highlighted by recognition of RGA's work in the US.
Protection business in 2012 and 2013 will be affected by events this year and some fundamental changes to the way customers policies are priced into the next. Richard Verdin explains.
Employee assistance programmes are in the spotlight due to a schizophrenic approach by government. But as Sue Weir points out, they are backed by solid research.
How will people buy insurance in future? Greg Becker visits the US for developments in online distribution.