According to brand new research published in the clinical Annals of Oncology journal, lung cancer may be on its way to becoming a bigger cause of death among European women than breast cancer by the middle of this decade.

One of the reasons for this is that lung cancer rates among women in Europe are falling, while lung cancer is on the rise.

Professor Carlo La Vecchia – one of the authors of the paper, which is entitled European cancer mortality predictions for the year 2013, 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. This is already true in the UK and Poland, the two countries with the highest rates: 21.2 and 17.5 per 100,000 women respectively.

ProfessorLa Vecchia also goes on to say that

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. However, fewer young women nowadays in the UK and elsewhere in Europe are smoking and, therefore, deaths from lung cancer may start to level off after 2020 at around 15 per 100,000 women.

The link between smoking and lung cancer statistics is of course inextricable – and while 2020 is still quite far off, there will undoubtedly be a time when today’s far far smaller uptake of the habit will result in lower numbers of people diagnosed with the disease.

The encouraging – and relatively substantial – decrease in breast cancer deaths (down 7% in the EU since 2009) is believed to be due to advances in treatment as well as more instances of screening for the disease and resulting diagnoses.

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