Lung cancer biggest killer of US women: study
Lung cancer has surpassed breast cancer as the main cause of death for American women, according to a study released Tuesday showing deaths related to the disease increased at a high rate among women while it remained stable among men.
"From 1990 to 2003, there was a 60-percent increase in the number of new cases of lung cancer in American women, while the number of men diagnosed with lung cancer remained stable. This is a dramatic increase and is clearly in excess of normal expectancy," said Jyoti Patel, the doctor who led the study.
In 2004, lung cancer caused as many deaths among women as breast and gynecological cancers combined, the researchers said in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study was conducted by Patel and colleagues from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Lung cancer among women differs from the disease found in men, Patel said.
"Genetic, metabolic and hormonal factors all are important to the way women react to carcinogens and lung cancer," he said. "This information should impact how we evaluate and screen patients who smoke and how we direct smoking cessation and lung cancer prevention programs.
"Mounting evidence suggests that these differences could be due, in part, to estrogen."
In 2003, 80,100 women were diagnosed with lung cancer and another 68,800 were killed by the disease.
"Despite all that is known about the devastating effects of cigarettes, one quarter of women in the United States continue to smoke," the study said. "Women are targeted in tobacco advertising, and teenage girls are often drawn to cigarette smoking under a variety of social pressures."
In the past, lung cancer studies focused on its effect on men. Researchers insist that women should be included to better understand how the disease affects women.
"Disseminating information about this epidemic may prevent a similar epidemic in other parts of the world where women are just now becoming addicted to tobacco," the study said.
About 20 million women picked up the habit in China in the last 10 years, while smoking among Japanese women doubled over five years.
Developing countries should develop anti-smoking campaigns to avoid a jump of lung cancer deaths among women, the study said.