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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2009 Dec;18(12):3349-52. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-09-0740.

The convergence of lung cancer rates between blacks and whites under the age of 40, United States.

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  • 1American Cancer Society, Atlanta, GA 30303-1002, USA.


Lung cancer rates in the United States have been consistently higher in blacks than in whites at all ages in men and at younger ages in women. However, since the 1970s, smoking initiation decreased more rapidly among blacks than whites. We examined trends in lung cancer rates for white and black young adults (ages 20-39) from 1992 to 2006 using joinpoint models and black-to-white rate ratios by sex. Lung cancer death rates in 20- to 39-year-olds significantly decreased in all groups but was much steeper for blacks than for whites. From 1992 to 1994 and 2004 to 2006, the black-to-white mortality rate ratio (95% confidence interval) decreased from 2.16 (1.90-2.44) to 1.28 (1.05-1.55) for men and from 1.47 (1.25-1.71) to 0.97 (0.78-1.19) for women. A similar convergence was observed in the lung cancer incidence rates. These findings suggest that if current smoking trends in the young continue, racial differences in overall lung cancer rates in men will be eliminated in the next 40 to 50 years.

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