The effects of the recession may go far beyond economics; it may have negatively impacted cancer mortality outcomes. In a recently published study, researchers found that unemployed prostate cancer patients are more likely to die from the disease than their employed counterparts.

The collaborative study, published in the journal E cancer medical science, found that a one percent increase in unemployment was associated with an increase in prostate cancer mortality. The study is one of the few of its kind to examine the correlation between poor economic conditions and a specific health condition.

Researchers used three different methods to achieve results: data collection, fixed-effects regression analysis, and trend-time analysis. Using members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), researchers sifted through data on unemployment and prostate cancer mortality in OECD countries over the nearly 20-year period between 1990 and 2009. The rise in prostate cancer deaths in unemployed patients, though slight, was significant.

"Our study has shown that increases in aggregate unemployment are associated with significantly worse prostate cancer mortality in OECD countries," researchers concluded. "Our study may thus be seen as a first examination of the important prostate cancer-related consequences of the economic crisis."

The researchers didn't shy away from weaknesses in the study, nor the possible need for further research on the correlation. Things like socio-economic factors, specifically within ethnic groups were not specifically accounted for because of a lack of data. This is because individual socioeconomic data linked with prostate cancer was not readily available for the study. Another possible weakness is that while the study suggests causation, it isn’t a sure thing that unemployment actually causes more deaths among prostate cancer victims.

"Because of the inclusion of such a large number of control variables, we were losing on degrees of freedom and had to reduce the sample size," the study said. "Thus our results represented a highly conservative estimate of the impact of unemployment on prostate cancer mortality."

Source: Mahiben Maruthappu, Johnathan Watkins, Unemployment and prostate cancer mortality in the OECD, 1990–2009. E cancer medical science, 2015