LUNG CANCER DEATHS AMONG WOMEN ON THE INCREASE IN SA

September 17, 2010

LUNG CANCER DEATHS AMONG WOMEN ON THE INCREASE IN SA

ISSUED BY: WITS UNIVERSITY
Sep 16, 2010

A study by Wits Health Sciences researchers observing trends in
lung cancer mortality in South Africa, has found a marked gender
difference between men and women. The mortality rate of women due
to lung cancer showed an increase while that of men remains
constant. Lung cancer is most commonly attributed to smoking; 80%
of cases are attributed to smoking and a small portion (10-20%) is
attributed to breathing in second-hand tobacco smoke, domestic and
industrial pollution.

Dr Oluwafolajimi Fadahun and colleagues studied the country’s
annual mortality and population data for the period of 1995 -2006
in a joint study by the National Institute of Occupational Health
and the Wits Faculty of Health Sciences. The investigators found
that in women the mortality rate increased significantly at an
annual rate of 0.17 per person for the study period and increased
even further from 1999 to 2006 at the rate of 0.28 per 100.000
persons.

The opposite was observed in men where there was a statistically
non-significant decline of 0.24 per 100,000 person from 28.9 per
100,000 in 1995 to 25 per 100,000 person in 2006; but from 2001 to
2006, there was a statistically significant annual decline of 0.81
per 100,000 persons. “The declining lung cancer mortality rate in
men is welcome but the increasing rate in women is a public concern
that warrants intervention,” says Dr Fadahun.

These finding will help in understanding the direction of the
cancer epidemic in South Africa and the impact of public health
interventions, and also in monitoring and projecting further rates,
adds Dr Fadahun. Over 42 000 South Africans a year die of
tobacco-related diseases, which includes lung cancer, according to
the Cancer Association of South Africa. This research report is one
of 90 papers to be presented at the Wits Health Sciences’ Research
Day on 22 September. The last study on cancer mortality trends in
South Africa was published in 1985 covering the period 1949 – 1979.

Papers will be presented in the following health priorities:
HIV/AIDS, Infectious Diseases, Chronic Disease and Diseases of
Lifestyle, Molecular and Comparative Biosciences and Healthcare
Delivery, Education and Management.

For more information on the study, please contact Dr Fadahun on
079 103

Buhle Zuma
Communications Officer
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Tel: 011 717 1018
Fax: 086 5533 092
E-mail: buhle.zuma@wits.ac.za

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