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U.S. Lung Cancer Deaths Highest for Blacks in Segregated Areas: Study

THURSDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. lung cancer death rates are higher among blacks than whites, and highest among blacks who live in the most segregated counties, a new study finds.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the nation, and blacks have the highest lung cancer incidence and death rates.

In this study, researchers analyzed national data to examine the relationship between lung cancer death, race and segregation.

The lung cancer death rates between 2003 and 2007 were about 59 percent for blacks and 52 percent for whites per 100,000 people, according to Dr. Awori Hayanga, of the University of Washington, Seattle, and colleagues.

The investigators also found that 32 percent of the U.S. population lives in counties with high segregation, 40 percent in counties with moderate segregation, and 28 percent in counties with low segregation. Segregation was highest in the Northeast, Midwest and South, and lowest in the Northwest.

Blacks living in counties with the highest levels of segregation had a 10 percent higher lung cancer death rate than those in counties with the lowest levels of segregation. This was true regardless of blacks' socioeconomic status.

This increased risk in highly segregated counties was not seen in whites. Whites in the most segregated counties had a 3 percent lower lung cancer death rate than those in the least segregated counties, according to the study in the January issue of the journal JAMA Surgery.

The researchers noted that counties with high levels of segregation tend to have more poverty and social problems, and less access to health care. Public health efforts, such as quit-smoking and early cancer-screening programs, should become priorities in these counties in order to reduce lung cancer death rates, they suggested in a journal news release.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about lung cancer.

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