Source: The Mercury, 24 November, 1998, p.7
By KYLIE SKIPPER 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 America. 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- tern. 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 inside. 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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