Big Killer of Black Men
Overall cancer death rates for black American men
could be cut by more than 60 percent if their exposure to smoking
could be extinguished.
That's the claim of a study in the May issue of Preventive Medicine.
The University of California, Davis study helps explain the disparity
in cancer death rates between black and white men in the United States.
"African-American men have had the highest cancer burden of any
group in this country for decades. 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,"
study author Bruce Leistikow, an associate professor of epidemiology
and preventive medicine, said in a prepared statement.
Using lung cancer death rates as a measure of smoke exposure, Leistikow
analyzed the correlation between annual smoke exposure and non-lung
cancer death rates for American black men from 1969 to 2000.
He found a close link between the smoke exposure rate and the non-lung
cancer death rate. There was a 34 percent increase in the rate of
non-lung cancer deaths among black men during the first 20 years of
the study, which parallels a sharp rise in smoke exposure among black
As smoking declined during the final decade of the study, 1990 to
2000, the non-lung cancer death rate among black men decreased by
"During two decades of a steep rise, and subsequent decade of
steep fall, U.S. black male smoke exposures and non-lung cancer death
rates have moved in near-perfect lockstep up and down. The associations
are very strong and have been consistent year-by-year for over 30
years," Leistikow said.