African Americans develop lung cancer at higher rates than any other race.

By: Amanda Anderson

It is no secret that cigarette smoking poses some extremely dangerous health risks that can potentially end lives. Most Americans may be aware of how dangerous cigarette smoking may be, but that information has not managed to stop the high rate that African Americans are developing and dying from the addiction. While studies have recently concluded that African Americans are targeted more than any other race in Cigarette Advertising campaigns, blacks are dying from lung cancer at much higher rates than other racial group. Let’s talk about the latest findings and the numbers that should make you put away that cigarette or “Black and Mild” for good.

Blacks may smoke less cigarettes in a day than most racial groups, but as a whole, African Americans are more likely to develop lung cancer than any other race. 73 out of 100,000 African Americans develop lung cancer, in comparison to 54 out of 100,000 whites. When it comes to the age that the cancer is developed, blacks develop the cancer at a much younger age than whites. Black men ages 40 to 54 are two to four times more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer verses white men.

Studies also reveal that African Americans who are in Stage 1 of the disease are less likely to undergo any surgery. Like most diseases and deadly forms of cancer, surgery is the primary means to curing the illness. The five year survival rate for blacks battling lung cancer is around 35 percent, while it is 46 percent for whites.

While many speculate that disparities may be the cause of the surge in these numbers, doctor’s are lacking in the proof since the study is relatively new. John Stewart, MD says:

“There’s been a lot of talk about disparities (between African Americans and
whites) in health care with reference to cancer, heart disease, and diabetes,
but this is the first work that consolidated the body of literature available in
reference to lung cancer.”

Smoking is the leading cause in the development of lung cancer. The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that more than eight out of ten cases of lung cancer are a result of smoking. As previously mentioned, studies show that African Americans smoke fewer cigarettes a day than Whites.

Health professionals also believe economics plays a huge part in why blacks smoke less, but develop the disease at higher rates than whites. The director of cancer screening for ACS, Robert Smith PHD, says:

“If you look at the larger spectrum, a greater percentage of African Americans
compared with whites are poor. We know that people who are poor tend to smoke
fewer cigarettes, but much more intensely — in order to get a higher dose of
nicotine within more of a budget.”

Cigarette type may also a significant factor behind these numbers. 75 to 90 percent of blacks prefer to smoke methanol cigarettes, compared to 20 to 30 percent of whites. Methanol cigarettes are extremely dangerous because they contain more tar and carcinogenic materials. More research is needed to conclude if these attribute to these findings.

What do these new findings mean to the African American community? It means it is time to put the cigarettes down. If you smoke, quit now because there is a chance that it may be early enough for you to avoid developing the disease. No unhealthy habit or available box of cigarettes is worth your life.

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