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Smoking: Go outside when you’re home, too

Study finds U.S. women highly prone to lung cancer

Colorado becoming a smoke-free state is good news, especially for women. A recent survey published by the U.S. National Lung Cancer Partnership (NLCP) found that American women are greatly uninformed about the threats posed by lung cancer and how it affects them. According to the NLCP, lung cancer affects more than 80,000 American women annually, with over 70,000 cases proving to be fatal. Also little known is that thirty thousand more women die annually from lung cancer than from breast cancer. In fact, lung cancer claims the lives of more women than breast, uterine and ovarian cancers combined.

It is believed that secondhand smoke is a key risk factor, particularly if a female lives in a household where others smoke. Women who live with a partner who smokes or who work in a workplace that is smoky are at an elevated risk. Other factors besides smoking and secondhand smoke can also predispose individuals to lung cancer. In addition, scientists suspect that lung cancer has a genetic component.

The survey also provided a snapshot of U.S. women’s attitudes, beliefs and lack of knowledge about lung cancer. The findings include:

  • Only 41 percent of women know that lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in the United States.
  • Only 8 percent of women understand that exposure to radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
  • Only 36 percent of women are aware that lung cancer kills more women than breast cancer.
  • Only 29 percent know that lung cancer kills more women than breast, ovarian and uterine cancers combined.
  • Only 41 percent of women know that one in every 17 women will develop a lung malignancy in her lifetime.
  • Only 18 percent of women know that women make up the majority of young (under age 40) lung cancer patients. Only 4 percent of women know that women typically do better than men following lung cancer treatment.

July 1 was a good day for Coloradans’ lungs. Now if everyone would just test their home for radon and mitigate when elevated levels are found, we’d all breathe a little easier, whether at home or in public spaces! (Free test kits will be available again this fall!)

For more information, call or visit Elisa at the CSU Moffat County Cooperative Extension, 539 Barclay St., 824-9180.