LONDON: Lung cancer rates among British women are continuing to rise as decades of smoking takes its toll, according to a leading charity.
More than 18,000 women in the UK were diagnosed with the disease in 2009, compared with fewer than 8,000 in 1975, new figures published by Cancer Research UK show.
The charity says the number of cases reflects smoking patterns from around two to three decades ago. Smoking among women was most prevalent in the 1960s.
The charity described this as "the 'Mad Men era,'" after the popular television show, when the Women's Liberation Movement was under way and around 45 percent of women smoked.
While that figure has now fallen to 20 percent amid a growing awareness of the dangers of smoking, the effects of earlier habits are still being seen.
Jean King, director of tobacco control at Cancer Research UK, said the figures highlight the "deadly impact" of tobacco.
"The continuing rise of lung cancer in women reflects the high number of female smokers several decades ago when attitudes were different," she said.
"Tobacco advertising hasn't appeared on UK television since 1965, but that didn't stop the marketing of cigarettes. New, more sophisticated marketing techniques have lured many hundreds of thousands into starting an addiction that will kill half of all long term smokers."
In 2009 there were 39 cases of lung cancer for every 100,000 women in the UK, compared with 22 per 100,000 in 1975.
Meanwhile, rates of lung cancer among men have fallen, with the number of cases now standing at 58.8 per 100,000, compared with 110 in 1975.
Cancer Research UK puts this down to smoking rates peaking earlier among men than women.
More than 65 percent of men smoked during World War II and the rest of the 1940s, leading to lung cancer rates reaching their highest around 30 years later, in 1979, the charity says.
The total number of UK lung cancer deaths stands at almost 35,000 per year, the new figures show. In 2010, some 19,410 men and 15,449 women died from the disease. AGENCIES