The Observer, Sunday 3 May 2009
Women who smoke are more likely than male smokers to develop lung cancer, research suggests. It also finds that female smokers are more likely to be diagnosed with the disease at an earlier age and have a greater risk of getting adenocarcinoma, a common form of lung cancer. The findings are significant because those studied had smoked far less than men over their lifetimes.
“Our findings suggest women may have an increased susceptibility to tobacco carcinogens. They are alarming because they show that women, despite smoking less than men, get lung cancer at an earlier age,” said Dr Martin Frueh, a medical oncologist, who led the study of 683 lung cancer patients in St Gallen, Switzerland. The researchers also found that female non-smokers were more likely to develop the disease than their male counterparts.
Lung cancer is the UK’s most lethal cancer. Every year 38,000 people – 22,000 men and 16,000 women – are diagnosed with it, and 34,000 die. In the 1950s six times more men than women developed lung cancer. But the ratio is now seven to five, reflecting changes in smoking behaviour.