A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that Americans living in rural areas of the country are more likely to die from cancer, heart disease, unintentional injury, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory disease than people living in urban areas.
The study states that into most deaths suffered by Americans residing in the countryside were preventable, which accounted for 25,000 deaths from heart disease, 19,000 from cancer, 12,000 from injuries, 4,000 from stroke, and 11,000 from chronic lower respiratory diseases.
The finding is part of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, where it is shown that there is a significant gap that requires authorities to address the threats that put civilians living in rural areas at risk of suffering an early death.
Rather than location, a problem of accessibility
An estimated 46 million Americans live in rural areas, which is equivalent to 15 percent of the total population. The CDC suggests that social and environmental factors might be the main reasons why people suffer premature deaths, as people living in rural areas are more prone to suffer from hypertension, obesity, and to smoke tobacco on a daily basis.
People in the countryside are also less likely to partake in the daily physical activity, while also refraining from using seatbelts when driving or riding as passengers. They also tend to have reduced access to healthcare, as they are exposed to a higher probability of being poor, which also implies a more restricted access to some form of health insurance.
Opioid abuse was also taken on consideration, as the rates of misuse and death are the highest among poor and rural populations. The CDC recommends educating opioid prescribers with the more recent guidelines and to improve access to opioid agonist medication-assisted treatment programs, which would prove to be helpful for rural communities that display high opioid misuse rates.
When referring to cancer, the CDC recognized that cancer-related deaths were less frequent in urban areas than rural areas, something that may be linked to external risk factors such as tobacco use, which also includes an increased risk of dying from heart disease or suffering a stroke. Also, the lack of accessibility to screening and care services for people infected with cancer contribute towards the prevalence of avoidable deaths.
“Needs-based allocation of resources can substantially impact rural health. Although rural communities are at higher risk for death from the five leading causes of death, funding to address risk factors is allocated on a population basis, often resulting in underfunded rural programs,” reported the CDC.
The CDC funds cancer-control programs in all of the 50 states, including the District of Columbia, Native American tribes, and tribal organizations, and even in Pacific U.S. territories and jurisdictions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also support the accessibility of cancer screening programs that allow uninsured individuals to take part in managing their own health, even if they do not possess the resources to pay for the analysis.