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Lung cancer rates decline for U.S. men, women: study

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - The percentage of U.S. adults developing lung cancer is falling, with the sharpest declines among those aged 35 to 44, according to U.S. data released on Thursday, fifty years after the surgeon general's first-ever report warning of the dangers of smoking.

The lung cancer rate dropped by 2.6 percent per year among men and 1.1 percent per year among women, between 2005 and 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found, using the most recent available data.

The largest decline was seen in adults aged 35 to 44, with a 6.4 percent drop per year among men and a 5.9 percent decrease for women in that age group, the study said.

"This is a big deal," said Clifford Hudis, president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

But Hudis added that there is still much more work to be done to reduce smoking given all the health problems it creates in addition to lung cancer.

More than half of American men and over a third of women were smokers on January 11, 1964, when Dr. Luther Terry delivered the Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health outlining the links between tobacco use, lung cancer and death.

Since the surgeon general's 1964 report, the prevalence of smoking by U.S. adults has been cut by half, the CDC said.

"I'm not satisfied with reducing smoking," Hudis said. "It should be eliminated. There's no upside to it."

Up to 90 percent of lung cancer cases are linked to cigarette smoking and second-hand smoke, the CDC said.

The CDC, whose officials call the fight to reduce tobacco use a "winnable battle," promotes increased funding for anti-smoking campaigns.

In 2007, the CDC recommended spending $3.7 billion on state-level anti-smoking campaigns. But in 2010, states spent $640 million, only 2.4 percent of the money they received from settlements in lawsuits against tobacco companies, the CDC said.

More than half of American men and over a third of women were smokers on January 11, 1964, when Dr. Luther Terry delivered the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health outlining the links between tobacco use, lung cancer and death.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins, editing by G Crosse)

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