, Volume 38, Issue 5, pp 926-940
Date: 21 May 2013

Time Trends in Liver Cancer Mortality, Incidence, and Risk Factors by Unemployment Level and Race/Ethnicity, United States, 1969–2011

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This study examined unemployment and racial/ethnic disparities in liver cancer mortality, incidence, survival, and risk factors in the United States between 1969 and 2011. Census-based unemployment rates were linked to 1969–2009 county-level mortality and incidence data, whereas 2006–2011 National Health Interview Surveys were used to examine variations in hepatitis infection and alcohol consumption. Age-adjusted mortality rates, risk-ratios, and rate-differences were calculated by year, sex, race, and county-unemployment level. Log-linear, Poisson, and logistic regression and disparity indices were used to model trends and differentials. Although liver-cancer mortality rose markedly for all groups during 1969–2011, higher unemployment levels were associated with increased mortality and incidence rates in each time period. Both absolute and relative inequalities in liver cancer mortality according to unemployment level increased over time for both males and females and for those aged 25–64 years. Compared to the lowest-unemployment group, those aged 25–64 in the highest-unemployment group had 56 and 115 % higher liver-cancer mortality in 1969–1971 and 2005–2009, respectively. Regardless of unemployment levels, Asian/Pacific Islanders and Hispanics had the highest mortality and incidence rates. The adjusted odds of hepatitis infection and heavy drinking were 38–39 % higher among the unemployed than employed. Liver-cancer mortality and incidence have risen steadily among all racial/ethnic, sex, and socioeconomic groups. Faster increases in mortality among the highest-unemployment group have led to a widening gap in mortality over time. Disparities in mortality and incidence are consistent with similar inequalities in hepatitis infection and alcohol consumption.

The views expressed are the authors’ and not necessarily those of the Health Resources and Services Administration or the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Human Subjects Review: No IRB approval was required for this study, which is based on the secondary analysis of public-use federal databases.