A trend of higher lung cancer incidence rates in young Black people versus young white people in the United States has flipped, with the Black/white gap disappearing in men and reversing in women, according to a new study. The changing trends coincide with steeper declines in smoking in Black Americans.
Historically, lung cancer incidence rates have been higher in non-Hispanic Black people than non-Hispanic white people among men of all ages and among younger women, likely reflecting historically higher smoking rates in Black adults.
However, there was one notable exception. Lung cancer incidence rates increased in Black men born around 1977-1982, which led to higher lung cancer incidence rates in Black than white men born during this period.
“This increase likely reflects the steep rise in initiation of smoking among Black adolescents in 1990s, which coincided with the R.J. Reynold’s tobacco advertisement campaign targeting African Americans,” wrote the researchers of the study. “Between 1991 and 1997, the prevalence of current cigarette use among Black high school students doubled from 14.1% to 28.2%.”
Source: “Black/White Disparity in Lung Cancer Incidence Reversed or Eliminated among Young Adults” on the American Cancer Society website (2020)
Scientific paper (full text): Jemal A, Miller KD, Goding Sauer A, Bandi P, Fidler-Benaoudia MM, Culp M, Islami F, Fedewa SA, Ma J. Changes in Black-White difference in lung cancer incidence among young adults. JNCI Cancer Spectrum 2020 DOI 10.1093/jncics/pkaa055