This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Death Risks Among Women Smokers Catching Up With Men

There are certain kinds of gender equity that don't do the world much good--smoking being a prominent example. An article published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine compares trends over time in the relative risks of death among smokers and non-smokers. It is now the case that among both men and women smokers the risk of death from lung cancer is 25 times higher among smokers than among non-smokers. Both male and female smokers have similarly higher risks of dying from chronic obstructive pulmonary condition (COPD). The Nation's Health (a publication of the American Public Health Association) interviewed the lead author, Dr. Michael Thun, former president of the American Cancer Society:
Smoking gained wide popularity among men about the time of World War I, Thun told The Nation’s Health, with popularity increasing among women about the time of World War II.
“The relative risks in women have lagged behind those in men for really all of the ways that smoking kills you,” Thun said. “The last very large study that looked at this from the American Cancer Society was in the 1980s. The point of this study was to see how the absolute and relative risks have changed in the last 20 years.”
“Probably the most important implication from our study is the international implication that unless smoking in developing countries can be reduced, they can expect to see, in another 20 or 30 years, the same sort of full consequences that first men and now women have experienced in our country,” Thun said. “This is a huge window of opportunity for prevention.”
About 17 percent of women in the United States smoke, but there are big differences by education, with less educated women being twice as likely to smoke as college graduates. Keeping cigarettes out of the hands of teenagers is perhaps the single most important prevention strategy, but the article emphasizes that quitting at any age improves your survival chances.

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