Young women are more likely to suffer from lung cancer than men – and scientists don’t know why.
Men were almost twice as likely as women to develop the disease in the 1980s, due to higher rates of smoking and higher workplace exposure to substances such as asbestos.
But with declining cigarette use and safety regulations, the pattern has reversed, with young and middle-aged women now more likely to be diagnosed with the disease than men.
In 1992, there were about 65 new cases of lung cancer for every 100,000 people, and by 2019 this had dropped to about 42, according to a new report from the American Cancer Society.
Despite progress, a gender disparity is emerging: women between the ages of 35 and 54 are diagnosed with lung cancer more often than men in the same age group.
Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of lung cancer, and although the overall number of smokers has fallen dramatically, women are slower to quit.
The above shows lung cancer cases among men and women, broken down by age groups. It reveals a shift towards greater prevalence in women in younger age groups
Scientists are not very concerned; the differences are small.
There are only one or two more cases among every 100,000 women in that age range than men – but it’s significant enough that they want to know what’s causing the shift.
In their research, published in JAMA Oncologyscientists analyzed data from 22 national cancer registries covering nearly half the US population.
They analyzed the data by year from 2000 to 2019, the last year in which complete data is available.
Overall, they found that lung cancer rates have declined among both men and women over the past two decades.
But the decline is faster in men, with women aged 35 to 54 now more likely to be diagnosed with the disease than women of the opposite sex.
Data showed that among women aged 50 to 54, the rate of lung cancer diagnoses fell 20 percent during the study to 38.5 cases per 100,000 person-years.
By comparison, among men in the same age group the decline was 44 percent to 36.8 per 100,000.
Men were still more likely than women to be diagnosed with lung cancer in older age groups, although the gap narrowed.
For those in the 70 to 74 age group, women were 40 to 20 percent less likely than men to be diagnosed with cancer during the study period.
Researchers led by ACS Senior Vice President Dr Ahmedin Jemal said: ‘We found that the higher incidence of lung cancer in women than in men has not only continued in those under 50 years of age, but is now also extends to middle-aged adults. younger women at high risk for the disease are living older.
‘The reasons for this shift are unclear because the prevalence and intensity of smoking are not higher among younger women than men, except for a slightly increased prevalence among those born in the 1960s.’
There is no evidence that cigarette smoke is more toxic to women than men, nor is there any evidence of overdiagnosis in women compared to men.
But Dr. Jemal told DailyMail.com that the shift may be partly due to an increase in cigarette smoking in the 1990s.
The researchers added: ‘Occupational exposure, which is more common in men, has declined significantly in recent decades and may have partly contributed to the shift in disease burden.’
Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death in the United States, with 238,000 cases and 127,000 deaths annually.
Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers causing deaths in the US, as shown above
By gender, approximately 67,000 men die from lung cancer each year, compared to 59,910 women.
However, deaths from lung cancer have been on a downward trend since the 1980s as awareness of the health risks of cigarettes continues to increase.
About 20 percent of American adults smoked in 2005, research shows, but by 2021 that had dropped to 11.5 percent.
In some parts of the US, such as New York City, smoking has now virtually disappeared.
It is unclear whether the vaping epidemic will cause lung cancer cases to rise again.
But several studies now suggest that those who puff on the devices have a higher risk of the disease.
In 1980, the lung cancer rate among men was 52.4 per 100,000 people. However, for women this was 28.4 per 100,000.