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American Lung Cancer Rates Fall

Update Date: Jan 10, 2014 09:27 AM EST

New data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed declining lung cancer rates for men and women. The statistics come 50 years after the first ever report on the dangers of tobacco was written by the surgeon general. The report had warned people about the health risks involved with smoking.

"This is encouraging because lung cancer rates were going up among women, but they are starting to come down now," said report author S. Jane Henley, a CDC epidemiologist, according to WebMD. "Smoking prevalence has been decreasing for several years, and that's finally paying off. This is largely due to increased tobacco control, including increases in tobacco prices and more smoke-free laws, which protect both smokers and nonsmokers."

According to the latest numbers, from 2005 to 2009, the lung cancer rate fell by 2.6 percent for men and 1.1 percent for women. The age group that saw the sharpest declines was 35 to 44. The analysts calculated that for this age group, the lung cancer rates declined by 6.4 percent and 5.8 percent per year for men and women respectively. During this time frame, there were 569,366 lung cancer cases in men and 465,027 lung cancer cases in women.

The researchers also looked at regional declines. They reported that the Northeast had the smallest reduction in lung cancer diagnoses. Other states that had difficulty bringing down the lung cancer rates were Alabama, Mississippi and Alaska.

These declining rates are very promising. Since the surgeon general's report in 1964, the CDC found that U.S. adult smoking rates have fallen by roughly 50 percent. Adult smokers in the U.S. make up roughly 20 percent of the population. Smoking is one of the causes of lung cancer and could be tied to up to 90 percent of lung cancer cases.

"This is a big deal," commented the president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Clifford Hudis reported by Reuters. "[But] I'm not satisfied with reducing smoking. It should be eliminated. There's no upside to it."

The report was published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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