Fewer and fewer Americans are developing lung cancer, and a big part of the reason is that we're not lighting up as much, according to a new government report.
Among men, new cases of lung cancer dropped in 35 states and remained stable in nine states between 1999 and 2008, according to the report.
For women, new cases dropped in six states (California, Florida, Oregon, Nevada, Texas and Washington), and remained stable in 24 states. Lung cancer rates increased just slightly in 14 states, according to the report.
Western states saw the fastest decreases in new cases of lung cancer; those states are also where smoking prevalence is lowest, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers said.
The report also showed that states that implemented tobacco control strategies were the most likely to see big reductions in smoking, and thereby smoking-related health costs. A report earlier this month by the CDC also showed that fewer Americans are smoking.
"Although lung cancer among men and women has decreased over the past few years, too many people continue to get sick and die from lung cancers, most of which are caused by smoking," CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., said in a statement. "The more we invest in proven tobacco control efforts, the fewer people will die from lung cancer."
Lung cancer is the deadliest of all the cancers for men and women. In 2007, 203,536 were diagnosed with lung cancer and 158,683 people died from the disease, according to the CDC.
Lung cancer can be symptomless when it's in its early stages, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms of the cancer include coughing up blood, chest pain and wheezing, shortness of breath, chronic coughing, bone pain and headache.
Smoking causes lung cancer because the carcinogens in cigarette smoke damage lung tissue, especially with repeated exposure to the smoke, according to the Mayo Clinic. As a person smokes more and more, the repeated damage can cause lung cells to act in an abnormal fashion, leading to the development of cancer.
Smoking can also cause cancer of the esophagus, stomach, mouth, lips, nose, larynx, kidney, bladder and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia, according to the American Cancer Society.