2 Million Cancer Cases Tied to Tobacco Use

THURSDAY Sept. 4, 2008 -- Lung and bronchial cancers accounted for almost half of the approximately 2.4 million tobacco-related cancers diagnosed in the United States between 1999 and 2004, says a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Thursday.

The study, which marks the first time the CDC has reported on all tobacco-related cancers for more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, was based on an analysis of data from the CDC's National Program of Cancer Registries and the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and Results Program.

Among the key findings (with cancer rates per 100,000 presented in parentheses):

  • The incidence of tobacco-related cancers was highest among blacks and non-Hispanics, and among men. This reflects patterns of tobacco use.
  • Lung, laryngeal, and cervical cancer rates were highest in the South, which has the highest rate of smoking in the United States. Kentucky had the highest lung cancer rates for men and women (133.2 and 75.5, respectively), the third highest rate of laryngeal cancers among men (9.7), and the highest rate of laryngeal cancer among women (2.6). The state had the highest rate of current smoking (28.6).
  • Smoking rates were lowest in the West -- Utah (10.4), California (18.5), and Montana (18.5) -- and cancer rates were lowest in the West for all cancers, with the exception of stomach cancer.
  • In 2004, the South had the highest rate of lung and bronchial cancer (97.9), while the West had the lowest rates (66.0). Among women, rates of lung and bronchial cancer were similar in the South, Midwest, and Northeast (55.3 to 56.4) and were lowest in the West (48.1).
  • The high rates of lung and layrngeal cancers in the South were consistent with smoking patterns and reflect the strong link between these cancers and tobacco use.
  • Other cancers associated with tobacco use -- pancreas, urinary bladder, esophagus, kidney, stomach, cervix, and acute myelogenous leukemia -- accounted for more than one million cancer cases diagnosed between 1999 and 2004.

"The data in this report provides additional, strong evidence of the serious harm related to tobacco," lead author Sherri Stewart, of the CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, said in an agency news release.

"We've long known tobacco was associated with lung and laryngeal cancer, but this study gives us even greater clarity. The rates for these two cancers were highest in areas with the highest prevalence of tobacco use," she said.

Dr. Matthew McKenna, director of CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, said in the news release, "Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States and the most prominent cause of cancer.

"The tobacco-use epidemic causes a third of the cancers in America. If proven strategies were fully implemented to decrease tobacco use, much of the suffering and death that cancer inflicts on families and communities could be prevented," he said.

Tobacco use is a major cause for all the cancers included in the report, but not all cases of cancer studied could be linked directly to tobacco use, the researchers noted. Some of these types of cancer have a number of risk factors -- such as genetics or infections -- that can cause disease independently, as well as in tandem with tobacco use, the researchers said.

The study is published in the Sept. 5 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about tobacco and health.

Posted: September 2008


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