LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 22, 2011) - The University of Kentucky's Dr. Susanne Arnold and colleagues were awarded a grant by the Department of Defense to study potential environmental reasons for the high lung cancer rates in Eastern Kentucky. The grant is for $1.43 million over three years and the study began on Sept. 15.
Kentucky has the highest lung cancer rates in the nation, but counties in the southeastern portion of the state those in the 5th Congressional District have an exceptionally high incidence of lung cancer. Data from the Kentucky Cancer Registry, a Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Result (SEER) site, revealed that the age-adjusted incidence rate for lung cancer in Appalachian Kentucky from 2003-2007 was 115.2 cases per 100,000 residents, compared to 61.6 cases per 100,000 residents nationally.
A "high" lung cancer rate is defined as more than 101.6 cases per 100,000 residents. By this definition, 83 percent of the counties in the 5th District have high rates, compared to 38 percent for the rest of Kentucky.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of lung cancer, and 25 percent of Kentuckians smoke, compared to the 21 percent of people nationally. But smoking on its own doesn't explain the discrepancy between southeastern Kentucky and the rest of the nation, said Arnold.
"We know that tobacco is the number one cause of lung cancer, but that isn't the only factor causing the high cancer burden for southeastern Kentucky," Arnold says. "So we started to look for other possible reasons. Could environmental carcinogens play a role? That's what this grant will allow us to investigate."
Arnold says the idea for the lung cancer study came about because of preliminary data from a study of colon cancer patients in Appalachia. The study examined toenail clippings from patients to assess their exposure to trace elements. Appalachian colon cancer patients showed significantly higher amounts of arsenic, chromium and n
|Contact: Allison Perry|
University of Kentucky