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US Citizenship Increases Mammogram Rates

Update Date: Nov 05, 2013 10:11 AM EST

Having an American citizenship increases a woman's chances of having a mammogram, according to a new study. Researchers said this is particularly true for non-U.S. natives.

New research reveals that American women are also significantly more likely to get checked for cervical and colorectal cancer.

The study, which was presented at the American Public Health Association's 141st annual meeting in Boston found that foreign-born female non-citizens living in the United States for less than five years have 69 percent lower chance of being screened for colorectal cancer within the previous five years, and foreign-born non-citizens who have lived in the United States for at least five years have 24 percent lower odds, compared to American citizens born in the United States. Furthermore, foreign-born non-citizens are significantly less likely to receive breast and cervical cancer screening.

Researchers said the latest findings correspond with implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which mandates that foreign-born residents who are lawfully present in the United States will be eligible for health care coverage beginning January 1, 2014.

"Our findings offer pioneering evidence for the potential protective effects health care and immigration policy reform could have for immigrants -- particularly for non-citizens, one of the most vulnerable populations in the United States," said Patricia Y. Miranda, assistant professor of health policy and administration, Penn State.

"Based on these findings we suggest that limits of duration mandates -- or the increased probability of cancer screening women are projected to have if they receive citizenship sooner than five years in the United States -- be reduced. This may be an important consideration in immigration policy that ensures preventive health care and reduction of cancer disparities for immigrant women," Miranda added.

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