- An increased number of women are getting lung cancer.
- Smoking cigarettes may not be the only reason behind it.
According to a new report published by the New England Journal of Medicine, women from the age of thirty to forty-nine faces a higher risk of getting lung cancer as opposed to men of the same age group.
In the past, men have always had a higher chance of contracting lung cancer than their female counterpart, which could perhaps be attributable to the higher number of male smokers. However, around the 70s, many cigarette brands have directed their advertising efforts towards women by associating the act of smoking a cigarette with the women’s liberation movement. An example of this can be seen from the slogan “You’ve come a long way, baby” by Philip Morris, in the Virginia Slims commercial that debuted in 1968, just shortly prior to the start of the 70s.
Ahmedin Jemal, the scientific vice president of the Surveillance and Health Services Research program at the American Cancer Society that published the research with the National Cancer Institute, attested to the part these commercials played in the increased number of girls and women who smoked cigarettes. He believes that the advertisements targeted at women have “definitely contributed to this”, in reference to the six percent of teenage girls – at high school level – who were smoking in addition to the thirteen percent of women.
While these efforts were proven to be rather fruitful, seeing as how an increased number of women overall were picking up the nasty habit, they were still less likely to smoke in comparison to their male counterparts. Even in the 1990s when the smoking rate for women increased visibly because of the strong advertising techniques practiced by tobacco companies, the rate subsequently reached a pit-stop and finally lowered again, as indicated by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
While the numbers are relatively close, statistics have shown that white women and Hispanic women faced a higher lung cancer rate whereas African Americans and Asians or Pacific Islanders do not have a lung cancer rate as high.
The lung cancer incidence, otherwise described as the number of cases of lung cancer per a hundred thousand women in a year, was eight percent higher in women who were between the ages of 44 and 49 from 2010 to 2014. However, from the mid-90s to the end of the 90s, the lung cancer incidence for women was twenty-six percent less than in men (between 44 to 49).
Of course, we can safely presume that there are other factors at play for the increased number of lung cancer cases in women, aside from smoking.
Jemal further elaborates his knowledge in this matter in an interview with Buzzfeed News.
“We have three hypotheses of what may have contributed to this.”
For one thing, women are more likely to continue using tobacco once they begin. Adenocarcinoma is a different type of lung cancer. While the risk of lung cancer will be vastly reduced once you quit smoking – 25% lower risk within the first five years, 50% in ten years and 90% after two decades – adenocarcinoma does not work the same. It takes a significantly longer duration to lower the risk. What’s worse is that adenocarcinoma is more likely to occur to women then to men. Jemal also states the possibility of a higher susceptibility of women towards the adverse health effects of smoking.
Over the years, new inventions and creations have caused this bad habit to become much more detrimental. For instance, with the “light” version of several cigarettes, smokers have resorted to taking larger inhalations with an increased frequency. This subsequently leads to smoking more, per say. As such, the relative risk of lung cancer caused by the smoking of cigarettes has become a horrendous twenty-five times more than non-smokers.
Fortunately, data has shown that fewer people in their 30s to 50s are getting lung cancer in this day and age as fewer people are smoking now, with the avid campaigns on the adverse effects on smoking circling around. Nonetheless, more than 25 percent of cancer deaths in the United States is still a result of smoking. Hence, it is always important to bear in mind the negative consequences that come at a high risk.
Like Jemal says, “”Quitting at any age is beneficial, but it’s best if you quit at younger ages. Smokers have to seek quitting services — you have to ask for counseling and treatment.”
If at any point in which you may have thought about quitting, but have convinced yourself that it is far too late, here’s what research has shown.
Quitting in your 60s may prolong your life by 3 to 4 years, whereas quitting in your 50s give you an additional 5 years. For anyone younger than that, quitting in your 30s is highly probable to increase your lifespan by 10 whole years!
Of course, these numbers are calculated based on the average figures, which means that you could even be looking at additional years beyond that! What are you waiting for? Put those cancer sticks away and quit now!
Featured image via flickr/ Alex Ford