A new report by the group Cancer Research UK compares lung cancer rates in the British population from 1975 to 2008. The report showed that the number of women over sixty years of age diagnosed with lung cancer jumped from 5,700 in 1975 to 15,100 in 2008, an increase of nearly 165 percent in just over thirty years.
Also, the number of women overall diagnosed with lung cancer increased by 125 percent, from 7,800 in 1975 to 17,500 in 2008. By comparison, the number of men over sixty diagnosed with the disease actually fell, from 23,400 in 1975 to 15,100 in 2008.
The report cites the increase in the number of women taking up smoking in the 1960s and 1970s as the reason for the sharp increase. Statistics have shown that between 80 and 90 percent of all instances of lung cancer are tied to smoking.
Dr. Stephen Spiro, a spokesman for the British Lung Foundation, said that lung cancer has surpassed breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths for women in Britain and several European nations. Dr. Spiro praised the efforts of government officials to raise the public’s awareness of the dangers of smoking, but also cited the fact that up to ten million adult Britons, about 20 percent of the population, still smoke.
Jean King, the director of tobacco control for Cancer Research UK, said that the group would continue to support smoking cessation programs. Also, Cancer Research UK is attempting to have advertisements for cigarettes covered or removed from stores that young people might frequent. Ms. King said that the advertising ban would “protect young people from being recruited into an addiction that kills half of all long term smokers”.