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October 4, 2006

Reduced Smoking Called Key to Male Drop in Cancer Mortality

Topics: Health Issues

Smoking.jpgAccording to a report by American Cancer Society researchers, smoking cessation accounts for about 40% of the decrease in cancer deaths seen among U.S. men since 1991. Although active smoking causes a long list of other cancers, lung cancer deaths make up 80% of all smoking-attributable cancer deaths in the U.S. Cigarette smoking accounts for a larger fraction of lung cancer deaths in men (88%) and women (72%) than any other smoking-related cancer except laryngeal cancer:

From 1991 to 2003, reductions in tobacco smoking have prevented at least 146,000 cancer deaths among men, reported epidemiologists Michael Thun, M.D., and Ahmedin Jemal, Ph.D., in the October issue of Tobacco Control.

The decrease in lung cancer and overall cancer mortality among men began approximately 30 years after the downturn in the smoking rate of U.S. men, the investigators pointed out.

But no decrease in lung cancer mortality has yet occurred among U.S. women, who began regular smoking some 20 to 30 years after men and have been slower to give it up, the epidemiologists said.

From 1991, when the cancer death rate peaked, to 2003, the overall age-adjusted cancer death rate in the U.S. dropped by 16.1% in men and by 8.4% in women.

During the same period, the lung-cancer death rate (a proxy for the total impact of cigarette smoking on all cancer mortality) decreased by 20% in men but increased by 9.6% in women, the researchers reported.

Overall, the researchers reported that on the basis of the absolute change in death rates, the decrease in lung cancer death rates in men accounted for 40% of the decrease in their overall cancer death rates.

In contrast, none of the 8.4% decrease in the all-cancer death rate for women was accounted for by lung cancer. In fact, lung-cancer deaths went in the opposite direction (9.6% increase) of their overall death rates. The decrease in overall cancer mortality in women would have been larger had there not been an increase in lung cancer mortality, the investigators said.

As pointed out in the article, even though the method of this study considered only the observed change in lung cancer rates during this period, it illustrates that a large number of deaths from lung cancer were avoided because of the decrease in the lung cancer death rates in men during this period.

Our take home message here is that if you smoke, stop, if you don't smoke, don't start!

Cross posted from New Hope Blog

Posted by Richard at October 4, 2006 1:21 PM

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