June 14, 2005 SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A new analysis links tobacco smoke to 63 percent of cancer deaths among African-American men in the United States. The smoke-related cancer death burden for African-American men is highest in the South at 67 percent, with the lowest burden -- 43 percent -- in the Northeast. The percentage is 60 in the West and 63 in the Midwest.
The study, authored by Bruce Leistikow, associate professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center, appears online now and will be published in the August issue of Preventive Medicine, published by Elsevier.
In research published last year, Leistikow estimated that more than 38 percent of cancer deaths for African-American men were related to tobacco smoke. His new study uses additional years of National Center for Health Statistics data to refine that analysis. He now also separately analyzes data for each U.S. Census region.
Leistikow notes one explanation for regional differences could be intervention disparities. Western and Northeastern states have some of the strongest tobacco control programs in the nation, while Southern and Midwestern states have been slower to initiate such increasingly common policies as higher cigarette taxes, smoke-free spaces, anti-smoking education programs and penalties for selling tobacco to minors.
"There is a lot of confusion about what causes the worst cancers -- those that destroy families by ending lives prematurely. This study clarifies that the best explanation for most premature cancer deaths for African-American males is tobacco smoke exposure, whether from secondhand or active smoking. It helps estimate regional and previously overlooked burdens of tobacco smoke inhalation," Leistikow said. "The study also provides further evidence that deaths can be reduced by applying the right policy tools."
African-American men have the highest cancer death rate of any gender-ethnic group in the United States. Free support for quitting smoking is available by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW, the national Smokers' Helpline. Other sources of assistance include www.nobutts.org, www.quitnet.com, www.smokefree.gov, the American Cancer Society at (800) 227-2345 and the American Lung Association at (800) 586-4872. Those groups, along with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, also educate policymakers and the general public on the benefits of tobacco smoke-free air.
The UC Davis Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center serving inland Northern California. It is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation's top 50 cancer treatment centers.
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