A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons found that residents of historically redlined areas were less likely to be screened for breast, colorectal, and cervical cancers. Redlining began in the United States in the 1930s to discriminate against neighborhoods whose residents are predominantly people of color and low-income individuals. Redlined areas were designated “high-risk” for lending and investment, leading to decreased property values. Congress banned the practice in 1968 under the Fair Housing Act. Still, studies show people who live in historically redlined areas continue to be negatively impacted by a lack of access to resources.
The study found that people who live in historically redlined areas are less likely to have health insurance, less likely to have a regular doctor, and less likely to have access to cancer screening. This lack of access contributes to higher cancer rates in these areas.
In addition, the study revealed that people who live in historically redlined areas are more likely to be exposed to environmental toxins, which can further increase cancer risk.
“I find this study on the impact of historic redlining practices on current cancer screening rates to be incredibly important and sobering. The findings clearly demonstrate that the legacy of redlining continues to contribute to significant disparities in breast, colorectal, and cervical cancer screening,” said David Tom Cooke, MD, FACS, professor and chief of the Division of General Thoracic Surgery at UC Davis Health, and president of the Thoracic Surgery Directors Association. Dr. Cooke was not involved with the study.
The study’s findings are significant because they highlight the need to address the health disparities in historically redlined areas. These disparities result from the legacy of redlining, which has had a lasting impact on the health of these communities. The study’s authors call for policies to address these disparities, which could help to improve the health of people who live in historically redlined areas.
Sources: News Medical