There is some indication that the incidence of lung cancer among young women now outnumbers that of men in the United States. But this greater incidence among women puzzles researchers because, apparently, is not linked to the number of young women who smoke.
A recent research study, released Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked precisely at the link between these cancers and tobacco, examining all cancer diagnostics since 1995 in the general population and data on the number of smokers since 1970.
The researchers expected to find a link between the rate of smoking among women and the rise in lung cancer cases in young women. But the data did not show such a relationship.
“Future studies are needed to identify the reasons for the higher incidence of lung cancer in young women,” said the researchers.
Lung cancer incidence in young women has risen in the last 20 years, surpassing the incidence of lung cancer in men
In the previous two decades, the incidence of lung cancer among men and women aged 30 to 54 has dropped, but the reduction has been stronger in men.
In white women born in the mid-1960s and Hispanic women, the incidence even surpassed that of men. Yet the percentage of female smokers is still smaller than that of male smokers.
Researchers hypothesize that, maybe, the reduced exposure to asbestos, which is another lung cancer causing factor, has been more beneficial to men, who were usually more often exposed.
For the study’s authors, however, the conclusions are very valuable.
First, the research reinforces the need for smoking prevention campaigns to be stepped up for young women, while, secondly, because it challenges researchers to conduct more studies in order to find the exact reasons why lung cancer incidence in young women is higher than in young men.