Sunday, October 15, 2023

Younger women are now getting lung cancer at higher rates than men, new study ascertains

According to a story by Dani Blum in editions of The New York Times a few days ago, younger women are now getting lung cancer at higher rates than men — despite an overall drop in the rates of new cases over the last several decades.

The Times piece cites a new study by the American Cancer Society noting that "lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the United States" and that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "estimates that, nationwide, around 197,000 are diagnosed with the disease each year."

Ahmedin Jemal
Blum's story quotes Ahmedin Jemal, an author on the study and senior vice president of surveillance and health equity science at the ACS, as indicating that cigarette smoking "remains the leading cause of lung cancer, and while there have been widespread efforts to reduce smoking, women have generally been slower to successfully quit."

Regardless, "about 15 to 20 percent of lung cancer cases in women are among those who have never smoked," Jamal reportedly added.

He suggested that those women may have been exposed to second-hand smoke.

Dr. Jyoti Patel, medical director of thoracic oncology of the Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern Medicine, also believes that, according to the story, "women might metabolize carcinogens differently from the way men do."

Furthermore, Blum's piece says, Dr. Patrick Forde, an associate profession of oncology at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, thinks that "air pollution has been linked to lung cancer and it's possible that women could be particularly susceptible to it, for reasons researchers are still working to understand."

The story also contends that ultimately there is no clear-cut explanations for the disparities. "The differences are really not obvious," Dr. Humberto Chi, a pulmonary median doctor at the Cleveland Clinic is quoted. "This is definitely an area for future studies."

Additional information regarding a multiplicity of cancers can be found in Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer, a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers. 

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