Lung Cancer Differences between Women and Men Abound
by Jennifer Wider, MD
WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 10, 2005) - The death of longtime ABC News anchor
Peter Jennings and the acknowledgement of actress Dana Reeve, widow of "Superman"
Christopher Reeve, that she has lung cancer presents an opportunity to remind
both women and men that lung cancer is the number one cancer killer of both
women and men. It is also important to note the differences between
women and men in lung cancer, according to the Society for Women's Health
"The tragic death of Peter Jennings and the news that Dana Reeve is battling
lung cancer should be a sobering reminder to everyone that lung cancer kills
more women and men than any other single cancer," Sherry Marts, vice
president of scientific affairs for the Society for Women's Health Research,
said. "Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, but as in Reeve's
case smoking is not always the culprit.
"Nonsmoking women are more likely than nonsmoking men to develop lung
cancer. Environmental factors other than smoke play a role in the development
of lung cancer in nonsmoking women. The small amount of research available
suggests that, when exposed to an environmental carcinogen, nonsmoking women
are more susceptible to DNA damage than nonsmoking men. We clearly need
more research into these differences so that we can reduce the cancer rate
and someday find a cure."
The Society for Women's Health Research is the nation's only non-profit organization
whose mission is to improve the health of all women through research, education
and advocacy. Based in Washington, D.C., the Society encourages the study
of biological sex differences between women and men that affect the prevention,
diagnosis and treatment of disease. The Society is at the forefront
of encouraging expanded research on lung cancer, which develops differently
in women and men. Current research is insufficient to understand the
extent and nature of those differences or apply them to improved care for
A 2003 Society sponsored national meeting identified important sex differences
in the genetics and basic biology of lung cancer; described sex differences
in response to environmental and chemical toxins that can lead to lung cancer;
and distinguished sex differences in smoking-related behaviors and the implication
of those differences for prevention and treatment of lung cancer. A report
on the meeting, "Sex Differences in Lung Cancer: From Genes to Behavior,"
is available by clicking
A June 2005 public opinion survey commissioned by the Society showed that breast
cancer is the disease that women most fear, despite the fact that lung cancer
kills more women. More information on the survey is available by clicking
The Society for Women's
Health Research is the nation's only not-for-profit organization
whose sole mission is to improve the health of women through research. Founded
in 1990, the Society brought to national attention the need for the appropriate
inclusion of women in major medical research studies and the resulting need
for more information about conditions affecting women. The Society advocates
increased funding for research on women's health, encourages the study of
sex differences that may affect the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of
disease, and promotes the inclusion of women in medical research studies.
Dr. Donnica Moore has been a member of the Society since 1990 and is a past
member of its Board of Directors.
Created: 11/27/2005  - Jennifer Wider, M.D.