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Smoking linked to more than 60 percent of overall cancer death burden in black men

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- The overall cancer death rate for African-American males would drop by nearly two-thirds -- without any other intervention -- if their exposure to tobacco smoke was eliminated, a new study suggests.

The study is the lead article in the May issue of the journal Preventive Medicine. The full text is available at http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/news/2004/Lung_cancer.pdf.

"African-American men have had the highest cancer burden of any group in this country for decades," said study author Bruce Leistikow, associate professor of epidemiology and preventive medicine at UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center. "This study demonstrates, for the first time, that this excess cancer burden can be clearly linked to smoking. Smoke exposure appears responsible for African-American males' high overall cancer mortality rates, not just their lung cancers."

Increasingly, research has linked smoking to deadly cancers other than lung cancer, including cancers of the colon, pancreas and prostate. In his new study, Leistikow found compelling data suggesting that tobacco smoke exposure is responsible for more than half the non-lung cancer death rate in African-American males and up to two thirds of their overall cancer death rate.

"This means that if black male smoking exposures fall dramatically, that alone is likely to erase the great majority of their cancer burden," said Leistikow, a physician epidemiologist who has conducted numerous other studies of smoking and health. "Going back to the low black male cancer burdens seen before the cigarette epidemic appears possible. Indeed, New York and, less so, California appear to be well on their way there."

Leistikow used lung cancer death rates as a measure of smoke exposure. He then analyzed the correlation between annual smoke exposure and non-lung cancer death rates for black males in the United State
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Contact: Claudia Morain
claudia.morain@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9023
University of California, Davis - Health System
22-Apr-2004


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