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Smoking behavior partially explains socioeconomic inequities in lung cancer incidence
Date:2/24/2009

ghest education.

The authors state that while their model shows that smoking accounts for some of the discrepancy in lung cancer risk, they may not have yet accounted for the full impact of smoking. Therefore, some of the residual inequity in lung cancer risk associated with socioeconomic status may still be due to smoking behavior. Nonetheless, the new data suggest that other factors contribute to the inequality. "In future studies, other risk factors should be considered, perhaps in relation with smoking," the authors write. "However, we also observed that removing smoking would reduce the population health burden that is associated with social inequality in lung cancer considerably, in terms of number of cancers avoided. Therefore, public health policies aiming at reducing smoking rates, especially among persons with low education, are still strongly needed."

In an accompanying editorial, Michael J. Thun, M.D., of the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, Georgia, writes that Menvielle and colleagues' effort to disentangle the impact of smoking and socioeconomic status on lung cancer risk is laudable. However, given shifting patterns of smoking in Europe, from a behavior associated more frequently with higher socioeconomic status to one associated with lower socioeconomic status, and geographic differences in that pattern, it is an extremely difficult task.

Thun concurs with the authors' conclusion that smoking must remain a focus of anti-cancer efforts. He concludes that "the most effective approach to reducing both the socioeconomic disparities and the overall burden of lung cancer is to implement measures that we already know are effective in reducing tobacco use."


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Contact: Caroline McNeil
jncimedia@oxfordjournals.org
301-841-1287
Journal of the National Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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