Lung cancer an increasingly female disease - report

LUNG cancer is to become predominantly a female disease within 20 years, a comprehensive report to be published today by the Office of Tobacco Control (OTC) has found.

Writing in the introduction to the report, National Cancer Registry director Dr Harry Comber revealed the incidence of lung cancer among women is increasing by as much as 3% every year.

Increases in other cancers are also expected to follow the same trend showing a marked increase in occurrence in women when compared to men, said Dr Comber. “From being a predominantly male disease for the past 50 years, lung cancer will be a predominantly female disease by 2020. Increases in other cancers will follow the same trend.”

Today’s report is expected to serve as a blow to the pro tobacco lobby which is continuing its intensive lobbying campaign against the Government’s workplace smoking ban planned for next year.

Dr Comber said the latest cancer figures were all the more disturbing since they were caused by a completely preventable habit.

“It is ironic that despite a generation of health promotion, this easily preventable cancer still causes more deaths than any other and a loss of 7,000 years of productive and happy life to women in Ireland each year,” he said.

Today’s report also details the worrying finding that women seem prepared to reduce their smoking to help the health of their children, but may resume heavy smoking later in life.

Referring to the report’s findings Dr Comber said there was now clear evidence that a much greater amount of effort needed to be devoted to controlling smoking in middle aged women.

The research for yesterday’s report, entitled Irish Women and Tobacco, was carried out by TNS mrbi and focused specifically on three areas. Areas examined in the report include the appeal of cigarettes to both men and women and differences between genders in their smoking choices and their attitudes to quitting.

The report also addresses the factors which drives women to quit and the approaches they use when they decide to do so.

Meanwhile, Junior Health Minister Ivor Callely last night welcomed the support received for the smoking ban from the European Society of Cardiology which has described the proposed Irish move as a model policy for Europe and the rest of the world.

“Vested interests here may continue to try and divert the debate over the ban away from the core issue of health but there is no arguing with the fact highlighted by the heart experts that tobacco smoking is a major risk factor for death and disability in Europe,” he said.

“The bottom line is there can be no compromise when it comes to health,” he said.

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