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Interesting statistic that I'd like to verify


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This morning, I noticed that someone had commented on one of my myth blog entries--the one about Lung Cancer always being caused by smoking.

A man left a comment that said, this:

In the past 40 years the number of smokers has been reduced by more than 50% (in real numbers), and the number of deaths from Lung Cancer have increased in all but one year, more than doubling. While getting people to stop smoking undoubtedly helps, it is not the solution to the horrendous death toll from Lung Cancer.

I thought it was a pretty powerful tidbit of information... but he didn't leave any sources, or a webpage where I could track him down.

Can anybody tell me if this is fact?

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Wow! Actually according to the 'good old' ACS, it looks like at least percentage-wise, it HAS decreased significantly.

This website says that in 1965 42% of the population were current smokers. And in 2001 only 23% were current smokers.

http://www.cancer.org/docroot/NWS/conte ... estone.asp

BUT... that's percentages. I wonder how that stacks up with numbers and population differences of the times.

Still. Interesting.

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Smoking prevalence (the percentage of adults who smoke) has decreased by over 50% in the past 40 years, as your statistics show. Remember that the subsequent decline in lung cancer incidence and death will occur with a lag of several decades because of the time it takes for a smoker or former smoker to develop and be diagnosed with lung cancer. Lung cancer rates in men have been declining in recent years, but women's rates had continued to increase until very recently. This is usually attributed to the fact that women took up smoking only in the past 30-40 years, whereas males had been smoking long before data on smoking were routinely gathered.

I wholeheartedly disagree with the man who posted on your blog - if there were no smoking, the rates of lung cancer would drop dramatically, but it would take decades for the benefits to be fully realized. This lag does not mean that eliminating smoking would not be a solution: anything that could drop the rates of lung cancer is indeed a solution.

I think maybe he was trying to say that a disease as deadly and as common as lung cancer is not "fixable" with any single solution. Eliminating smoking, identifying significant biomarkers, developing more targeted therapies, improving symptom management, increasing support services, and just about everything else we can do is worthwhile.

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