Cancer numbers for women double

by Katy Docherty

Smoking trends are being reflected in diagnoses of lung cancer

The number of women diagnosed with lung cancer annually has more than doubled since the 1970s, according to figures released today by UK Cancer Research.

15,100 women over 60 were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008: a giant leap when compared to the 5,700 diagnosed in 1975.

But for men there has been a drop in the number of diagnoses, with the number falling from 23,400 in 1975 to 19,400 in 2008.

As a reduction in diagnoses mirrors a reduction in smoking, the figures reflect the smoking trends of 20 to 30 years ago. Men were the main smokers of the 40s and 50s, whereas in the 60s and 70s it became more popular for women to smoke. The long-term effects of these trends can be seen in cancer figures: in the 1980s the number of diagnoses for women began to fall but then started to rise again in 2002.

In an attempt to deter young people from taking up smoking, the Government may decide to ban cigarette displays in shops. The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley  will announce the decision on Wednesday.

Jean King, Cancer Research UK’s director of tobacco control, says the figures will influence the Health Secretary’s decision: “These figures highlight how important tobacco control measures are in helping people to stop smoking. In particular we want displays in shops covered up so that young people are no longer being exposed to this form of tobacco marketing.”

The figures have been released in conjunction with No Smoking Day which takes place this Wednesday, 9 March.

So who is smoking more nowadays? Men or women?

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