Lung cancer death rates among young and middle-aged white women climb in some states

June 25, 2012

A new study comparing lung cancer death rates among women by year of birth shows dramatic differences in trends between states, likely reflecting the success or failure of tobacco control efforts. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, finds that while lung cancer death rates declined continuously by birth year for women born after the 1950s in California, rates in other states declined less quickly or even increased. In some southern states, lung cancer death rates among women born in the 1960s were approximately double those of women born in the 1930s.

Lung cancer death rates had been falling among young and middle-aged white women in the U.S., but then abruptly leveled off, reflecting an increase in smoking among girls in the 1960s and 1970s. To study whether this unfavorable trend varied across states, in view of large differences in , researchers led by Ahmedin Jemal, PhD, analyzed lung cancer death rates from 1973 through 2007 by age among white women for 23 states for which there was adequate data, using the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) mortality database.

California has consistently led the U.S. in using public policies to reduce cigarette smoking. It was the first state to establish a comprehensive statewide tobacco control program through increased excise taxes (1988), and pioneered local government ordinances for smoke-free work places as early as the mid-1970s. In contrast, public policies against have been weaker in many southern and Midwestern states, particularly among tobacco-growing states.

In California, age-specific lung cancer death rates by year of birth continued to decrease in all age groups younger than age 75 starting in the 1990s, with declines beginning earlier in younger age groups. In New York, the age-specific trends were generally similar to those in California except the decreases were much less steep. In Alabama, in contrast, rates continued to increase for those age 70 years or more, whereas rates for young and middle-aged women decreased for a short time, but are now increasing in the most recent time period, especially for women younger than age 50. In California, the lung cancer death rate for women born after 1950 is less than a third of that among those born in 1933, while in Alabama the death rate in women born after 1950 is more than double that of women born in 1933. Similar increasing rates in women born after 1950s were found in many southern states, including Tennessee, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Kentucky.

"The dramatic rise in lung cancer in young and middle-aged white women in several Southern states points to a lack of effective policies or interventions, like excise taxes and comprehensive smoking bans, that deter initiation of smoking among teenagers and promote smoking cessation among adults," said Ahmedin Jemal, PhD, American Cancer Society vice president of surveillance research. "Our findings underscore the need for additional interventions to promote smoking cessation in these high-risk populations, which could lead to more favorable future mortality trends for and other smoking-related diseases."

Explore further: US lung cancer rates fall, led by Western states (Update)

More information: J Clin Oncol 2012 Published online ahead of print June 25, 2012. DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2012.42.6098

Related Stories

US lung cancer rates fall, led by Western states (Update)

September 15, 2011
The West is leading a national decline in the rate of new lung cancer cases, with states like California and Nevada accounting for much of the improvement, particularly among women.

Southern US states lag in reducing death rates from colorectal cancer

July 7, 2011
Improvements in colorectal cancer mortality rates are concentrated in the northern part of the United States, while southern states continue to fall behind, according to a report in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, ...

Recommended for you

Researchers develop test that can diagnose two cancer types

December 12, 2017
A blood test using infrared spectroscopy can be used to diagnose two types of cancer, lymphoma and melanoma, according to a study led by Georgia State University.

Atoh1, a potential Achilles' heel of Sonic Hedgehog medulloblastoma

December 12, 2017
Medulloblastoma is the most common type of solid brain tumor in children. Current treatments offer limited success and may leave patients with severe neurological side effects, including psychiatric disorders, growth retardation ...

Cancer-causing mutation suppresses immune system around tumours

December 12, 2017
Mutations in 'Ras' genes, which drive 25% of human cancers by causing tumour cells to grow, multiply and spread, can also protect cancer cells from the immune system, finds a new study from the Francis Crick Institute and ...

Drug suppresses spread of breast cancer caused by stem-like cells

December 12, 2017
Rare stem-like tumor cells play a critical role in the spread of breast cancer, but a vulnerability in the pathway that powers them offers a strategy to target these cells using existing drugs before metastatic disease occurs, ...

MRI scans predict patients' ability to fight the spread of cancer

December 12, 2017
A simple, non-invasive procedure that can indicate how long patients with cancer that has spread to the brain might survive and whether they are likely to respond to immunotherapy has been developed by researchers in Liverpool.

A new weapon against bone metastasis? Team develops antibody to fight cancer

December 11, 2017
In the ongoing battle between cancer and modern medicine, some therapeutic agents, while effective, can bring undesirable or even dangerous side effects. "Chemo saves lives and improves survival, but it could work much better ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.