Lung cancer rates dropping for men … and finally for women, too

Great news from the Centers for Disease Control.

Compiling data from 2008 (it takes a few years to put this together), in a trend that began in the 1990s, the lung cancer rate for men in the United States continued to drop.

Better news, however, is the lung cancer rate for women dropped for the second straight year. Lung cancer rates for women have been highly stubborn in refusing to drop, even though the smoking rate among women has dropped over the past 30 years. The fact that more non-smoking women get lung cancer than non-smoking men might also have some effect on the lung cancer rate for women being so stubborn.

Graph on lung cancer rates

In 1999, the lung cancer rate for men was about 93 cases per 100,000 population. In 2008, that dropped all the way down to about 79 cases per 100,000.

In 1999, the lung cancer rate for women was about 54 cases per 100,000. That increased to about 57 cases per 100,000 by 2006, but then has dropped back down to about 53 cases per 100,000 in 2008. Finally, that lower smoking rate for women is starting to pay dividends (Remember, there is an infamous “30-year lag” between smoking rate and lung cancer diagnoses. Lung cancer really didn’t become an epidemic in America until the 1930s, after cigarettes became popular in the early 1900s.)

Again, this is outstanding news. Lung cancer is the No. 1 cancer killer in America (about 160,000 people a year), and more than any other cancer, it is almost directly the result of lifestyle choices. About 85 percent of the people who get lung cancer are either smokers or former smokers (about 90 percent of men and 80 percent of women).

The CDC study broke down the lung cancer rates by region:

In the South, among men, the lung cancer rate dropped from about 106 cases per 100,000 population in 1999 to about 88 cases per 100,000 in 2008 (Another way of looking at this is one male out of 940 in the South had lung cancer in 1999; back in the late 90s, the smoking rate among men in the South was still above 40 percent.).

In the South, among women, the lung cancer rate dropped from about 61 cases per 100,000 in 2005 to about 60 cases per 100,000 in 2008. Not much of a drop, but it might be the beginning of a long-term trend.

In the Northeast, among men, the lung cancer rate dropped from about 91 cases per 100,000 in 1999 to about 81 cases per 100,000 in 2008. Among women, the lung cancer rate unfortunately rose from about 55 cases per 100,000 in 1999 to about 59 cases per 100,000 per 2008. This is the one bit of bad news in the study.

In the Midwest, among men, the lung cancer rate dropped from  about 97 cases per 100,000 in 1999 to 86 cases per 100,000 in 2008. In the Midwest, among women, the lung cancer rate has dropped from about 59 cases per 100,000 in 2006 to 57 cases per 100,000 in 2008.

In the West, there has been the most dramatic drop in lung cancer rates. The West also has the lowest smoking rates of any region in the country. Hawaii, California, Utah and Idaho are among the four lowest smoking rate states in the country.

In the West, the lung cancer rate for men dropped from about 77 cases per 100,000 in 1999 to about 60 cases per 100,000 in 2008, a decrease of 22 percent. In fact, the lung cancer rate for men in the West was roughly the same as women in the South in 2008.

In the West, among women, the lung cancer rate dropped from 50 cases per 100,000 in 2006 to about 45 cases per 100,000 in 2008. It appears the West is a driving force for that lung cancer rate finally beginning to drop among women nationwide.

Lung cancer map -- men

Lung cancer map women

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This entry was posted in centers for disease control, Lung cancer, Lung disease, smoking among women. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Lung cancer rates dropping for men … and finally for women, too

  1. Snoyoda says:

    Great post, and great news. Not only lung cancer, of course, but heart disease and stroke. I believe that my best friend had his stroke because he smoked so much. Later, as you know, he got a rare blood disorder possibly caused by trauma to the brain. Lost him in August…still very sad about it…only 56.

    Smoking is death. Maybe not right away, but eventually.

  2. Haruko Haruhara says:

    Hi, Snow!

    Smiley

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