Lung cancer tragedy of the women targeted by cigarette adverts in post-war yearsMore will die from lung cancer than any other form
Women are paying a deadly price for being targeted by tobacco advertisers in the post-war years, health experts claimed yesterday.
They were responding to research showing that this year more British women will die from lung cancer than any other cancer.
Although UK rates of breast cancer remain among the highest in Europe, the risk of dying from lung cancer is greater, the findings say.
Slimming aid This 1930s advert urges women to smoke for beauty reasons (left), while a 1960s promotion for Benson and Hedges makes the activity look fun
The figures, published today, predict a rising number of cancer deaths across Europe, reaching 1.3million in 2012. This is because a greater number of people are living into old age.
But the rate of deaths per head of population is actually declining.
Compared with 2007, the overall rate of cancer deaths will be 10 per cent lower among men and 7 per cent less in women, the researchers from Italy and Switzerland estimate.
Experts say advances in treatment and management are responsible for falling death rates in almost every form of the disease – except for lung cancer in women.
Bad for your health: A Lucky Strike poster from 1951, in an era when women were being targeted by tobacco advertisers
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the
campaign group Action on Smoking and Health, said men took up smoking
earlier in the last century, but women have been targeted since by the
‘Women are reaping the consequences of industry marketing of cigarettes
as a symbol of independence and freedom – instead it’s bringing them
illness and death.
used to smoke more but rates have dropped and now the gap has closed.
Teenage girls are more likely to smoke at an earlier age than boys and
that makes them more vulnerable to damage to their health.’
added: ‘We need plain packaging of cigarettes. Attractive “pretty”
packets make cigarettes appealing to women, but there is a big price to
The drive to target women began before the Second World War and gathered pace throughout the rest of the 20th century.
Paying the price: Women who began smoking in the post-war years are now dying from lung cancer in ever greater numbers
The study published today in the journal Annals Of Oncology looked at cancer rates in 27 member states of the EU, and in six individual countries: Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain.
It predicts that in 2012 there will be a drop of 9 per cent in EU breast cancer deaths, corresponding to a rate of 14.9 per 100,000 women.
In Britain the breast cancer death rate from 2005-2009 was 18.39 per 100,000, the highest of the six individual nations. This is predicted to fall to 15.95 per 100,000 in 2012.
On lung cancer deaths, the study said Britain had the highest rates in women of 21.4 per 100,000 – three times higher than the lowest estimated rate of 6.8 in Spain.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among UK women. More than 39,000 cases are diagnosed each year, claiming 15,000 lives. That compares with 13,000 from breast and cervical cancer.
Cancer rates are dropping in British men, who have the lowest rate in Europe along with the Germans.