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Acta Oncol. 2010 May;49(4):436-40. doi: 10.3109/02841860903521103.

Cancer in working-age is not associated with childhood adversities.

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  • 1Tampere Health Centre, Tampere, Finland.



Early life events are studied as potential causes of cancer. The objective here was to study childhood adversities in the etiology of cancer.


The material comprised a population based random sample of 25 898 individuals among the Finnish working-aged population. In 1998 they were requested through six questions in a postal questionnaire to recall their childhood adversities. The cases consisted of people with cancer diagnosed 2000-2006 and registered in the Finnish Cancer Registry (n = 384). The rest of the sample consisted of cancer-free controls.


The most common adversities were prolonged financial difficulties, serious conflicts in the family and someone in the family having been seriously or chronically ill. The cancer patients reported more prolonged financial difficulties and someone seriously or chronically ill in the family. They reported less parental divorce than the controls. The associations were not statistically significant after adjusting for age, sex, education, and health behaviour. Nor was there a significant difference in the total number of childhood adversities between the study group and the controls.


On the whole, these cancer patients had not experienced more childhood adversities than the controls. According to our findings, there is no cause to attribute development of cancer in working age to childhood adversities. This information may also give relief to other family members.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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