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BACKGROUND: Low socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with higher risk of certain gastrointestinal (e.g., colorectal, pancreatic, and liver) cancers in Western populations. Evidence is very limited in China, where correlates and determinants of SES differ from those in the West. METHODS: The prospective China Kadoorie Biobank recruited 512,715 adults (59% women, mean age 51 years) from 10 (5 urban, 5 rural) regions. During 10 years of follow-up, 27,940 incident cancers (including 3,061 colorectal, 805 pancreatic, and 2,904 liver) were recorded among 510,131 participants without prior cancer at baseline. Cox regression was used to estimate adjusted HRs for specific cancers associated with area-level (e.g., per capita gross domestic product, disposable income) and individual-level (e.g., education, household income) SES. RESULTS: Area-level SES and household income showed positive associations with incident colorectal and pancreatic cancers and inverse associations with liver cancer (P trend < 0.05). Education showed no association with colorectal cancer but inverse associations with pancreatic and liver cancers, with adjusted HRs comparing university to no formal schooling being 1.05 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.85-1.29], 0.49 (95% CI, 0.28-0.85), and 0.61 (95% CI, 0.47-0.81), respectively. Potential risk factors (e.g., smoking, alcohol) partly explained the inverse associations of education with pancreatic and liver cancers (17.6% and 60.4%), respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Among Chinese adults, the associations of SES with gastrointestinal cancers differed by cancer type and SES indicator. Potential risk factors partially explained the inverse associations of education with pancreatic and liver cancers. IMPACT: The different associations between SES with gastrointestinal cancers may inform cancer prevention strategies.

Original publication




Journal article


Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev

Publication Date





823 - 831


Adult, China, Colorectal Neoplasms, Educational Status, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Geography, Humans, Incidence, Income, Liver Neoplasms, Male, Middle Aged, Pancreatic Neoplasms, Prospective Studies, Risk Factors, Social Class