Sunday, 19 August 2012

My chart vs CRUK chart

Source CRUK
The continuing rise of lung cancer in women reflects the high number of female smokers several decades ago when attitudes were different. Tobacco advertising hasn’t appeared on UK television since 1965, but that didn’t stop the marketing of cigarettes.- Jean King, director of tobacco control. (Cancer Research UK)

I have long been interested in this chart produced by Cancer Research UK for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I wonder why they do not show the rate of lung cancer before 1975 because the UK like many other countries have kept data from much further back in time. Mexico for example has collected data since the 1950s just like Scotland has. Sweden has excellent records going back even further. CRUK decided to use incidence data rather than mortality data and it maybe that incidence data only goes back to 1975 but I am sure that CRUK could have chosen to use mortality data if they had wanted to.

Secondly, It would seem to the casual observer that the decline in the rate of lung cancer for males could very well be caused by the decline in smoking prevelance. And that the rate for lung cancer could be at around the 100+ mark from 1948 through to 1975 for males. But as this is not shown it would be just guessing. However, the only thing that may seem to conflict with this theory is why there is no similar decline in lung cancer for females after 1975 when both sexes were either not taking up smoking or becoming quitters. I have heard it asked in the media on a number of occasions to "cancer experts" by people asking the very reasonable question "why is lung cancer still rising for women"? Every time the response goes like this "There has been a greater fall in the number of men smoking compared to women and this is why there is a rise for women" or along those lines. This is risible nonsense. The two are not connected. The reward for women not smoking is more lung cancer, therefore the theory that smoking protects women from lung cancer holds more water than the theory that smoking causes lung cancer in women. I would say the correct response to the question of why lung cancer is on the rise for women is "We don't know why lung cancer is still rising for women". There is nothing wrong in my book with saying "We don't know". So why so called "cancer experts" insist on trying to pin this rise in lung cancer for women on smoking is beyond me. What ever way you look at it, it is clear that women have been giving up smoking since 1975 just like men, the reward for men is less lung cancer but the reward for women is more lung cancer.

Thirdly, the smoking prevelance is data wieghted after 1998, again this is not CRUKs fault, if the data has been wieghted than they must be shown wieghted but it does mean two different types of measurements have been used on the same trend line.

I have long wanted to produce my own chart showing similar data to illustrate the point that the theory that smoking prevelence drives lung cancer becomes more confused when you look further back in time. My first idea was to produce a chart the same in all respects but with using mortality data going back to 1950. But I decided instead to use smoking prevelance for middle aged people aged 35 - 59 and lung cancer data for a thin slice of population ages 60 - 64 (the five years after the upper limit for smoking prevelance data). The trends are broadly speaking about the same as for a chart showing all ages.

Here it is.

Cancer stats source
The continuing rise of lung cancer in women reflects the high number of female smokers several decades ago when attitudes were different. Tobacco advertising hasn’t appeared on UK television since 1965, but that didn’t stop the marketing of cigarettes.- Jean King, director of tobacco control. (Cancer Research UK)
I simply don't understand how one can look at these trends and come to the conclusion that cigarette use drives lung cancer. How can a fall in smoking prevelance (males) up to 1975 cause a rise in lung cancer? At this time why were women not getting so much lung cancer and why did they get more of it later , why not earlier like the men? If it is true that smoking causes 95% of lung cancer then I would expect smoking prevelance and lung cancer rates to be highly correleated and to me they seem only weakly correlated. One correlation bieng that as there was a rise of lung cancer amd people gave up smoking or did not take it up in the first place. Had there not been a massive rise in lung cancer maybe more people would still be smoking.

As far as I can see cigarette consumption does not drive lung cancer rates in the UK. This does not mean that smokers are not more likely to get lung cancer it just means something else drives lung cancer rates.
UPDATE: I have another post on this subject here


  1. I'd very much like to visit with Fredrik Eich
    I have never blogged before, so I don't know the "rules" or "customs of blogging. Do all writings get posted? or is there somebody editing and deciding what is useful and what is nonsense?

    Female lung cancer may have less to do with smoking and more to do with vitamin E which is easily depleted by female hormone supplements.

    The following information might add support to Fredrik's blog August 19, 2012:

    Pollutants such as cigarette smoke do not cause cancer directly, because your body has many ways to remove pollution, depending on which toxin and where in the body. Toxins are only a problem when the body cleaning mechanisms fail.

    Your body routinely "cleans" inner surfaces (inside of lungs or sinuses of uterus or vagina) --- as long as your body had a supply of vitamin A, which is an oily vitamin easily oxidized. So vitamin E becomes important because the vitamin E prevents the oily vitamin A from damage --- thus allowing A to do its job of cleaning inner surfaces of the lungs.

    As I look at lung cancer statistics, it seems blatantly obvious that female lung cancer has little relationship to smoking. There must be something else going on.

    The big difference between male cancer and female cancer is not about smoking, but about hormones. Young women take birth control pills and older women take menopause pills --- both of these "medicines" work by increasing the female hormone estrogen.

    There are two problems with estrogen: First, it signals the tumor to grow in the same way that estrogen signals the embryo to divide and multiply. Conventional scientists have finally admitted (40 years too late) that estrogen supplements increase breast cancer, but they are to slow to make the similar connection to lung cancer.

    The second problem with estrogen is that it depletes the vitamin E which is the main reason women get so much lung cancer. Here's how it works (or fails to work):

    Without vitamin E the vitamin A fails to do its job of cleaning the lungs--- and Wallah! --- you have 40 million women unable to flush toxins out of their lungs.

    Bottom line is that female lung cancer has little to do with smoking and everything to do with a very little vitamin E in their diet.

    No, I'm not a vitamin E salesman. A hundred years ago, we got plenty of vitamin E from eating whole grains. The E is in the hull of the grain. But the food manufacturer grind the hull off of the seed, and wastes all the vitamin E.

    I read a lot of medical studies and sometimes I notice "connections" that apparently others do not see --- If you need it, I could send you information about relevant studies.

    My name is Tom Ramsell in Iowa --- is it proper to give an address or phone?? like I say -- this is my very first "blog experience" thanks for reading it.

  2. Tom,
    An interesting theory. My first reaction would to be to look at a country such as the Republic of Ireland where birth control pills were available much later than say in the UK. As far I can see the trends for female lung cancer rates are almost identical, you can look at the trends via the link I posted below my chart.
    Please feel free to post links to anything in the literature that you think may be of interest.
    All the best, Fredrik.

    1. Dear Mr. Eich

      I am curious about your background. Tell me if i am wrong. You seem to know a lot about --- not sure I have the right word --- is it "demographics"??? --- the study of comparing medical statistics --- charts and trends --- from one country to another or one year to another or different counties. Is that your profession? -- or just a private obsession??

  3. I am developer/programmer/analyst (code-monkey) by occupation. I would not characterize my interest in this topic as an obsession. I would say it is just one of a number of interests.