Study reports findings on lung cancer death rates in never smokers

May 16, 2006

Lung cancer death rates are not higher among women than men who have never smoked, but death rates from lung cancer may be higher in African-American than Caucasian female never smokers, a study reports in the May 17 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Michael J. Thun, M.D., of the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues identified the age, sex, and race of 940,000 never smoking adults in two American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study cohorts and assessed death rates from lung cancer. They found that lung cancer death rates were similar for men and women, but that rates were higher in African-American women than Caucasian women.

The authors write, "Our findings provide reassuring evidence against the hypothesis that lung cancer risk is higher among women than men who have never smoked, and that risk may be increasing over time due to factors other than tobacco smoking. However, our findings suggest that never-smoking African-American women, and possibly African-American men, may have higher lung cancer mortality than never-smoking whites."
David Sampson, American Cancer Society, 213-368-8523,

Thun MJ, Henley SJ, Burns D, Jemal A, Shanks TG, Calle E. Lung Cancer Death Rates in Lifelong Non-Smokers. J Natl Cancer Inst 2006; 98: 691-699.

Note: The Journal of the National Cancer Institute is published by Oxford University Press and is not affiliated with the National Cancer Institute. Attribution to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute is requested in all news coverage. Visit the Journal online at

Journal of the National Cancer Institute

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