Source: The Mercury, 13 January 1994, p.4
Women smokers run twice the risk of lung cancer if they smoke the same number of cigarettes as men, a new study has found. The study reported in the American Journal of Epidem- iology, is one of the first to reveal that smoking affects men and women differently. It found that younger women smokers were seven times more likely to get cancer as non-smoking women but ran five times the risk of non-smoking men. The researchers converted the data into "pack years", with each year equivalent to 7305 cigarettes, or an average of a pack a day. Women who smoked for more than 30 pack years ran 27 times the risk of getting lung cancer as non-smoking women. But men who smoked for the same number of years were 11 times more likely to develop cancer than non-smoking men. For 60 pack years and above, women ran a risk of cancer that was 82 times higher than if they did not smoke, and men ran a risk 23 times higher. The researchers, from America's Yale University, Canada's University of Tor- onto and the Ontario Cancer and Treatment Foundation, interviewed 442 women and 403 men with lung cancer for the study. The smokers were matched with data from 410 healthy women and 362 healthy men of about the same age. Family members and spouses of smokers were also carefully interviewed to establish de- tails of each person's smok- ing history and the number of cigarettes they had smoked. Study leader Dr. Harvey Risch, associate professor of epidem- iology and public health at Yale's school of medicine, said most of the smokers averag- ed a pack a day and had smoked about 40 years. But despite the results, Dr. Risch told the New York Times he could not establ- ish any reasons why women were more susceptible to lung cancer than men. Victorian Anti-Cancer Council epidemiology head Dr. Graham Giles said yesterday the find- ings of the research made it vital that women - especially young women - stopped smoking. He said very little research had been done into the differ- ences of smoking on the sexes because most women had not smoked for as long as men.
Where to next?
Student Questions for this article
Teacher Discussion of this article
Index - Related articles
Index - Data Collection and Sampling
Index - Chance and Basic Probability
Numeracy in the News - Main Index