Lung cancer death rates in lifelong non-smokers

Lung cancer death rates are not higher among women than men who have never smoked, but death rates from lung cancer may be higher in African-American than Caucasian female never smokers, a study reports in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Michael J. Thun, M.D., of the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues identified the age, sex, and race of 940,000 never smoking adults in two American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study cohorts and assessed death rates from lung cancer. They found that lung cancer death rates were similar for men and women, but that rates were higher in African-American women than Caucasian women.

The authors write, “Our findings provide reassuring evidence against the hypothesis that lung cancer risk is higher among women than men who have never smoked, and that risk may be increasing over time due to factors other than tobacco smoking. However, our findings suggest that never-smoking African-American women, and possibly African-American men, may have higher lung cancer mortality than never-smoking whites.”

http://jncicancerspectrum.oupjournals.org

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Revision date: June 18, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD