Population density and cancer mortality by gender and age in England and Wales and the Western World 1963–93

Authors: Pritchard, C. and Evans, B.

Journal: Public Health

Volume: 111

Pages: 215-220

ISSN: 0033-3506

DOI: 10.1038/sj.ph.1900367


The aetiology of malignant disease is multi-factorial, including contributory environmental factors. Based upon the premise that increases in the density of population will be coterminous with a worsening of the environment, it is hypothesised that such changes should be reflected in an increase in cancer mortality in general and in elderly populations. By focusing upon changes in the elderly (+75) deaths between two time periods, the study corrects for age factors related to cancer mortality.

The study tests this hypothesis via correlations between population density and malignancy death rates in general and elderly age bands over a thirty year period.

It was found that there were positive and significant correlations between population density and malignancy mortality rates in the Western World, especially amongst men, but all correlations strengthened in the direction hypothesised. The findings were not an artefact of longevity, further research is required to give a better understanding of these findings.

Source: Manual