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Housing discrimination and racial cancer disparities among the 100 largest US metropolitan areas. Cancer 2019 11 01;125(21):3818-3827



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Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85068677126   13 Citations


BACKGROUND: Cancer contributes substantially to the life expectancy gap between US blacks and whites, and racial cancer disparities remain stubborn to eradicate. Disparities vary geographically, suggesting that they are not inevitable.

METHODS: The authors examined the relationship between housing discrimination and the size of cancer disparities across large US metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). MSA-level cancer disparities were measured using data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mortgage discrimination for each MSA was estimated using the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act database, and MSA racial segregation was determined using US Census data. Patterns of housing discrimination and cancer disparities were mapped, and the associations between these place-based factors and cancer disparities across MSAs were measured.

RESULTS: Black-to-white cancer mortality disparities (rate ratios) varied geographically, ranging from 1.50 to 0.86; 88% of mortality ratios were >1, indicating higher mortality for blacks. In areas with greater mortgage discrimination, the gap between black and white cancer mortality rates was larger (correlation coefficient [r] = 0.32; P = .001). This relationship persisted in sex-specific analyses (males, r = 0.37; P < .001; females, r = 0.23; P = .02) and in models controlling for confounders. In contrast, segregation was inconsistently associated with disparities. Adjusting for incidence disparities attenuated, but did not eliminate, the correlation between mortgage discrimination and mortality disparities (r = 0.22-0.24), suggesting that cancer incidence and survival each account for part of the mortality disparity.

CONCLUSIONS: Mortgage discrimination is associated with larger black-to-white cancer mortality disparities. Some areas are exceptions to this trend. Examination of these exceptions and of policies related to housing discrimination may offer novel strategies for explaining and eliminating cancer disparities.

Author List

Beyer KMM, Laud PW, Zhou Y, Nattinger AB


Kirsten M. Beyer PhD, MPH Associate Professor in the Institute for Health and Equity department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Ann B. Nattinger MD, MPH Associate Provost, Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

African Americans
Health Status Disparities
Middle Aged
Socioeconomic Factors
United States
Urban Population