Source: The Mercury, 24 November, 1998, p.7

Lung cancer study reveals climate link

LUNG cancer rates are much 
higher among females than 
males in Tasmania and New 
Zealand, Tasmanian re- 
search has found. 
However, closer to the equator 
the cancer rates for females 
gradually decline and male rates 
begin to take the lead in Victoria 
and New South Wales. 
The findings were made in a 
study conducted by the Menzies 
Centre for Population Health Re- 
search in Hobart and relate to the 
20-44 year age group. 
Menzies Centre biostatistician 
Leigh Blizzard said the same 
situation was found in North 
He said the centre carried out 
the research after observing that 
between 1983 and 1992 the inci- 
dence of lung cancer in females in 
the 25-44 year age group was 
roughly twice as high as the 
incidence in males in that group. 
The female rate was 6.2 per 
100,000, while the male rate was 
3.3 per 100,000. 
"That had never been observed 
anywhere else in the world," Mr 
Blizzard said. 
They compared the results with 
data from the rest of Australia 
and New Zealand and found that 
in colder climates female rates 
were higher than males. 
In New Zealand, female rates 
were 20% higher. 
After comparing data from Can- 
ada and the United States, they 
found the same latitudinal pat- 
A recent report in Sweden docu- 
mented the same findings. 
Mr Blizzard said one theory was 
that in colder areas people were 
more likely to stay inside where 
they would be subjected to passive 
smoking or air pollution from open 
fires. It was thought women in 
particular were more likely to stay 
He said, otherwise, it could be 
attributed to a pattern of women 
in colder climates taking up smok- 
ing at a younger age. 
The centre recently completed a 
case control study to investigate 
the matter further and the results 
will be analysed during the next 
few months. 
Yesterday Mr Blizzard spoke at 
the Australian Society for Medical 
Research's National Scientific 
Conference in Hobart. 
The conference began on Sun- 
day and winds up tomorrow. 
The Menzies Centre celebrates 
its 10th anniversary this month.

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