Lung Cancer Rates in US Declining, CDC Finds

lung health
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The percentage of Americans developing lung cancer every year is dropping, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On average, 78 of every 100,000 men in the U.S. developed lung cancer in 2009, down from 87 per 100,000 in 2005, according to the report. That's a decline of 2.6 percent in men's rate of lung cancer.

Similarly for women, lung cancer rates decreased 1.1 percent, dropping to 54 cases in every 100,000 women in 2009, from 57 in 2005.

The drop was the steepest in people ages 35 to 44, with their rate decreasing about 6 percent per year.

"These dramatic declines in the number of young adults with lung cancer show that tobacco prevention control programs work when they are applied," said CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden. [10 Easy Paths to Self Destruction]

The rates decreased faster among men than among women. Now, men younger than 45 have slightly lower rates of lung cancer than women of the same age, even though lung cancer has historically been more common in men.

"While it is encouraging that lung cancer incidence rates are dropping in the United States, one preventable cancer is one too many," Frieden said. "Implementation of tobacco control strategies is needed to reduce smoking prevalence and the lung cancer it causes among men and women."

Lung cancer is the deadliest and the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among both men and women in the United States.

Between 2005 and 2009, about 1 million people in the U.S. were diagnosed with invasive lung cancer. Most lung cancers are attributable to cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke. An estimated 43.8 million U.S. adults smoke cigarettes, according to the CDC.

Tobacco prevention and control strategies include increasing tobacco prices, enacting smoke-free laws and restricting tobacco advertising and promotion.  

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Bahar Gholipour
Staff Writer
Bahar Gholipour is a staff reporter for Live Science covering neuroscience, odd medical cases and all things health. She holds a Master of Science degree in neuroscience from the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Paris, and has done graduate-level work in science journalism at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She has worked as a research assistant at the Laboratoire de Neurosciences Cognitives at ENS.