While a stiff upper lip may have helped the British built an empire during Victorian times, research suggests that maintaining this tough upper lip may actually be increasing their risk of cancer. A study by international expert is suggesting that the harsh British mentality that Brits are known for might be the reason for the large differences in cancer survival rates when comparing the UK to other similar high income countries.
Brits are more likely to avoid going to the doctor if they think that a symptom is silly, embarrassing, or will just be a waste of time to explore. King’s College London lead author of the research Dr. Lindsay Forbes, explained that the UK really stood out in their study because a large amount of people they took a look at stated that they did not want to waste their own time or the doctor’s time with an embarrassing symptom that they thought would go away on their own.
Forbes added that the ‘stiff upper lip’ may in fact be stopping many people from seeing a doctor at a timely interval when the cancer would be easier to fight. The study took a look at cancer survival rates and found that for breast, lung, and ovarian cancers Canada, Australia, Norway, and Sweden had the best rates whereas the UK and Denmark had the lowest rates even though all of the countries have access to health care and good cancer fighting systems.
The one year survival rate for those diagnosed with cancer in the UK was 30% compared to the overall cancer survival rate of 44% in Sweden. It was also found that in the UK 35% of patients noted that they were worried about wasting the time of a doctor versus the 9% in Sweden that were concerned about the same thing.