Steve August 20, 2020

Aug. 20 (UPI) — Lung cancer rates are now lower for Black women than White women in the United States, an analysis published Thursday by JNCI Cancer Spectrum found.

The reduced incidence of the disease among Black women across all age groups identified in the study marks a reversal in historic trends, the researchers said.

Black Americans have long been considered at higher risk for lung cancer than White Americans, due to higher rates of smoking, according to the American Cancer Society.

The changing trend coincided with “steeper” declines in smoking in Black Americans, the authors of the JNCI Cancer Spectrum analysis said.

“The historically higher early-onset lung cancer incidence rates in Blacks than Whites have disappeared in men born [between] 1967 [and] 1972 and reversed in women born since 1967,” wrote the authors, from the American Cancer Society.

“Consistent with these patterns, the historically higher smoking prevalence in Blacks than Whites disappeared in men and reversed in women born since the 1960s,” they said.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, with about 80 percent of the roughly 154,000 deaths recorded each year caused by cigarette smoking, according to the cancer society.

For their analysis, the researchers examined five-year age-specific lung cancer incidence in Blacks and Whites younger than 55 years old from the Cancer in North America Database against and smoking prevalence statistics from 1997 to 2016 and smoking data from 1970 to 2016 from the National Health Interview Survey.

The incidence rate for lung cancer among Black women diagnosed between 2012 and 2016 was the same or lower than it was for White women, the data showed.

For example, the incidence rate for the disease among Black women ages 40 to 44 was of 6.9 per 100,000 person years — a number that measures the general population and the length of time their health was followed — between 2012 and 2016, compared to 9.8 per 100,000 person years for White women, the data showed.

Conversely, between 1997 and 2001, the incidence rate for Black women in that age group was 18.7 per 100,000 person years, compared to 14.2 per 100,000 for White women, the researchers said.

At the same time, the differences in incidence rates between Black men and White men have narrowed in recent years, particularly among those born since 1967. Among those born in 1945, smoking rates were higher for Black adults — 66% for men, 48% for women — than White adults — 61% for men, 47% for women — the data showed.

However, this was the reverse among those born in 1985, with rates of smoking higher for White adults — 34% for men, 32% for women — than Black adults — 33% for men and 24% for women — the researchers said.

“Our study reflects the success of national, state, and local anti-tobacco public health policies and activities in the Black community despite the tobacco companies’ targeted and deceptive marketing strategies,” co-author Ahmedin Jemal said in a statement.

“At the same time, the increase in lung cancer incidence among Black men born around 1982 reflects the lack of strong public health policies to prevent the rise in smoking initiation in 1990s,” said Jemal, an epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society.

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