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Helping Women Find Affordable Housing Also Boosts Cancer Screening

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 15, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Chalk up a surprising benefit to government housing assistance.

Breast cancer screening is higher among some low-income women who get government help with housing compared to those who do not, new research shows.

"Receiving housing assistance has been associated with several positive health outcomes and health behaviors in past research, and our findings suggest it can also support cancer screening in some medically underserved groups," said lead study author Dr. Jordan Baeker Bispo, principal scientist for cancer disparity research at teh American Cancer Society. 

In urban areas, the odds of breast cancer screening were 30% higher among women receiving housing assistance, researchers found. They were also twice as high among 45- to 54-year-olds and Hispanic women.

The findings were published Nov. 8 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

For the study, Bispo's team analyzed data from the 2019 and 2021 National Health Interview Survey. They compared screening rates among women who did and did not receive government housing assistance, such as public housing and vouchers.

While they found no difference in cervical cancer screening by housing status, screening for breast and colon cancers was higher among those who got assistance than those who did not.

When researchers adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics, health status and insurance, the link between housing aid and breast cancer screening persisted in some groups -- including women in urban areas, Hispanic women and women 45 to 54 years of age. The association for colon cancer was not statistically significant.

"Despite the promising evidence for these groups, improving housing affordability may not be sufficient to eliminate socioeconomic disparities in cancer screening," Baeker Bispo said in a cancer society news release. "Programs that address other key determinants, like access to routine care providers and health literacy, are still needed to enhance access to screening for everyone and help detect cancer early to save lives."

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about cancer screening.

SOURCE: American Cancer Society, news release, Nov. 9, 2023

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