I love this chart! Cancer deaths are declining. The two statistics that stand out for me are those for Non-Hodgkins lymphoma and lung cancer. The rate of decline for Non-Hodgkins lymphoma is more than 3 percent. Fantastic! Although it’s a less deadly cancer, Non-Hodgkins lymphoma takes a horrible toll on people in their 20s and 30s. That’s a time in your life when you should be thinking about babies&careers and not sidetracked into making life&death decisions about chemo etc.
I’m especially excited to see the statistic showing the first ever drop in lung cancer deaths among women. They say it’s related to the drop in the number of people smoking cigarettes. A recent study in The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that 7 percent of U.S. adults were heavy smokers in 2007, compared to 23 percent in 1965.
23 percent in 1965? That makes perfect sense to me. Raise your hand if you remember the Marlboro Man commercials. Yup, me too.
My mom used to smoke about two packs a day, which was pretty normal back then. My most vivid childhood memories are of her and all of the other moms in their aluminum beach chairs. While we played in the sand, they smoked endless cigarettes and enjoyed their surf side coffee clatsche. Every so often, one of them would stick her pack of Pall Malls or Chesterfields into the strap of her bathing suit and wade in the water to cool off. I’m not sure if the reason they didn’t dive under water was because they didn’t want to mess up their perfectly lacquered Mad Men-esque hairdos or because they didn’t want to get their cigarettes wet. I suspect it was the latter. As I recall, every single mom smoked cigarettes. I guess w/all of those big Irish families, they needed nicotine to maintain an even keel. They didn’t realize the price they’d pay down the road. My mom spent her last months on round-the-clock oxygen. She said she wished she’d never touched cigarettes. That coulda, shoulda, woulda makes me sad. In her chain-smoking days, she had no way of knowing cigarettes would later kill her.
I’m glad to see that nicotine isn’t most people’s drug of choice anymore. But the increases in liver and pancreatic cancer are said to be due to increased obesity in our society. Yes, food……a drug of a different sort. But that’s a story best saved for another day. Today we should just celebrate these wonderful numbers.