Lung cancer kills more women in the UK than any other form of the disease according to a new study, overtaking breast cancer for the first time.
Rise in female lung cancer deaths have been blamed on an increase in smoking rates
Researchers looked at cancer rate in all 27 European Union member countries. Writing in the Annals of Oncology, they found that lung cancer kills 16,000 women a year in the UK, compared with 12,000 for breast cancer.
The increase in lung cancer is attributed to the rise in young women taking up smoking in the late 1960s and 1970s. Professor Carlo La Vecchia, one of the study authors from the University of Milan in Italy, said:
"This predicted rise of female lung cancer in the UK may reflect the increased prevalence of young women starting smoking in the late 1960s and 1970s, possibly due to changing socio-cultural attitudes at that time.”
The increase in female lung cancer deaths is reflected across the EU. Since 2009, the number of deaths from lung cancer has increased seven per cent to around 82,000. If trends continue, lung cancer will become the most lethal form of the disease in Europe.
This year experts predict lung cancer to kill 82,640 women in Europe and breast cancer to kill 88,886. Professor Carlo La Vecchia said:
"If these opposite trends in breast and lung cancer rates continue, then in 2015 lung cancer is going to become the first cause of cancer mortality in Europe.”
Across the EU, an estimated 1.3 million people will die from cancer in 2013- 737,747 men and 576,489 women.
Whilst the actual number of cancer deaths has increased in Europe since 2009 because of a rise in cancer cases, the death rate has actually decreased six per cent in men and four per cent in women.
Lung cancer is still the main cause of cancer death among men in Europe, with a death rate of 37.2 per 100,000 men predicted for 2013.
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