Smoking, Obesity Trends Affect Cancer Rates
WebMD News Archive
Spotlight on Obesity continued...
Being morbidly obese -- having a body mass
index (BMI) of 40 or more or being 100 pounds or more overweight -- has been
shown to double a woman's risk of dying from breast cancer. It is associated
with an even greater increase in death risk from less common cancers like those
of the cervix, kidney, and uterus. The BMI measurement is one of the most
accurate ways to determine whether an adult is overweight.
Among both sexes, obesity is linked to an increase in deaths
due to colorectal cancer. And studies suggest that a man's risk of dying from
liver cancer is more than quadrupled if he is obese.
The decline in smoking among teens over just the last few years
is one of the most promising trends outlined in the report. Smoking rates among
white females, for example, dropped to 31% in 2001 from 39% just three years
earlier. Similar declines were seen for males and across all racial groups.
The decline coincided with a ban on cigarette promotions
targeting young people, which was part of the landmark 1998 tobacco settlement.
The banishment of Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man from rock concerts and other
teen-populated venues is considered a major success in terms of impact on
smoking. But the promise of the $206 billion, 25-year settlement has yet to be
fulfilled in other ways, ACS officials say.
The windfall was originally intended to go toward health care
and tobacco control efforts. But only about half of the money paid out in 2001
went to health care and just 6% was spent on programs to prevent smoking and
help people quit.
"To say this is disappointing is a huge
understatement," says ACS director of cancer science and trends Thomas
Glynn, MD. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that was handed to the
states and the American people on a silver platter. Instead of reducing the
burden of tobacco use for generations to come, much of this money is being
The report calls on lawmakers to raise taxes on tobacco and
increase funds for advertising aimed at reducing teen smoking and cessation
programs targeting adults.