Similar Risk of Lung Cancer in Male and Female Smokers

Among those who have never smoked, risk modestly higher for women, findings suggest

MONDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- Female smokers are no more likely than male smokers to develop lung cancer, although among never-smokers, women may be at modestly higher risk compared with men, according to the results of a study published online June 14 in The Lancet Oncology.

Neal D. Freedman, Ph.D., from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues compared the incidence of lung cancer based on gender and tobacco use in 279,214 men and 184,623 women in the United States who were between 50 and 71 years old in 1995-1996.

By 2003, 1.47 percent of men and 1.21 percent of women developed lung cancer, the researchers report. In those who had never smoked, the investigators found that the incidence of lung cancer per 100,000 person-years was 20.3 for men and 25.3 in women (adjusted hazard ratio 1.3 for women compared with men). In those who currently smoked more than two packs a day, the incidence rate was 1259.2 in men and 1308.9 in women. Former female smokers also had a similar risk compared with men (adjusted hazard ratio 0.9).

"Our findings suggest that women are not more susceptible than men to the carcinogenic effects of cigarette smoking in the lung," Freedman and colleagues conclude. "Future studies should confirm whether incidence rates are indeed higher in women who have never smoked than in men who have never smoked."

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