Women With CF Have Shorter Life Spans

Cystic fibrosis survival has improved for wealthy men

(RxWiki News) Who lives longer and why is the theme of many research studies. Now, a group from England has put cystic fibrosis (CF) patients' years lived under the microscope.

Over a 50 year period, survival times for those living with CF have improved from an average lifespan of 6 months in 1959 to 27 years of age in 2008. Some groups have fared better than others.

A recent study from England indicates that even though survival rates have improved for all with CF, women from lower socioeconomic classes length of life has increased the least.

"Women still linked with earlier death from cystic fibrosis."

The authors of this study conclude that healthcare workers need to be educated about the poorer outcomes of women with CF from lower socioeconomic classes. They surmise that environmental factors and less ability to access healthcare resources may be the reason for the difference.

In the companion editorial, experts note that inequalities persist in the healthcare system and recommend early cystic fibrosis screening for all newborns.

The editorial pinpoints an obvious target for action: Protecting newly diagnosed cystic fibrosis patients from tobacco smoke. Future research is also recommended to discover new ways to reduce the effects of poverty on one's health.

A team of researchers primarily from the University of Nottingham theorized that improved healthcare has led to diminished socioeconomic classes and gender discrimination regarding access to healthcare. They analysed all recorded deaths from cystic fibrosis in England over the past 50 years.

Between 1959 and 2008, the median age at death increased from 0 to 4 years of age to 25 to 29 years of age. For the past 30 years, the men tended to live longer than the women.

After adjustments were made for socioeconomic levels, men with CF were more likely to die above the median age than women wth CF in the 1970s and 1980s. Median age at death was substantially higher in men compared with women in the last eight years.

Also, between 1959 and 2000, median age of death was higher in people who weren't employed in jobs requiring manual labor compared to the blue collar group. Between 2001 and 2008, median age at death also tended to be higher in the 'professional and managerial' group compared with the 'routine and manual' group.

These findings are published in the British Medical Journal online, BMJ.com.

Review Date: 
August 24, 2011