Lung cancer rates in young US women exceed men, despite fewer smokers: study

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Lung cancer rates among young women now exceed those of men in the United States, a trend that has puzzled scientists because the phenomenon cannot be explained by a growing number of smokers, researchers said Wednesday.

In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers focused on the link between lung cancer and tobacco use, analyzing all diagnoses of lung cancer since 1995 and data on the number of smokers since 1970.

Scientists hoped to find some link to explain why lung cancer rates among women born since 1960 now exceed men. But they found none.

“Overall lung cancer incidence and mortality rates continue to be lower among women than among men,” said the report.

But among white and Hispanic women born since the 1960s, “lung cancer rates have exceeded those in men, even though fewer women smoke,” it added.

“Future studies are needed to identify reasons for the higher incidence of lung cancer among young women.”

Over the past two decades, lung cancers among both men and women have fallen, but they have declined faster among men.