The reversed social gradient: Higher breast cancer mortality in the higher educated compared to lower educated. A comparison of 11 European populations during the 1990s

Bjørn Heine Strand*, Anton Kunst, Martijn Huisman, Gwenn Menvielle, Myer Glickman, Matthias Bopp, Carme Borell, Jens Kristian Borgan, Giuseppe Costa, Patrick Deboosere, Enrique Regidor, Tapani Valkonen, Johan P. Mackenbach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Higher socioeconomic position has been reported to be associated with increased risk of breast cancer mortality. Our aim was to see if this is consistently observed within 11 European populations in the 1990s. Longitudinal data on breast cancer mortality by educational level and marital status were obtained for Finland, Norway, Denmark, England and Wales, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Austria, Turin, Barcelona and Madrid. The relationship between breast cancer mortality and education was summarised by means of the relative index of inequality. A positive association was found in all populations, except for Finland, France and Barcelona. Overall, women with a higher educational level had approximately 15% greater risk of dying from breast cancer than those with lower education. This was observed both among never- and ever-married women. The greater risk of breast cancer mortality among women with a higher level of education was a persistent and generalised phenomenon in Europe in the 1990s.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1200-1207
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - May 2007

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