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Men more likely to die from cancer than women

July 13, 2011|By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Men die from cancer at higher rates than women -- more than fivefold for lip and larynx cancers, researchers from the National Cancer Institute found.
Men die from cancer at higher rates than women -- more than fivefold for lip… (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images )

Cancer kills more men than women -- some forms more than others, finds a new study.

In the new assessment of cancer data, men are more than twice as likely than women to die from lung, skin, kidney and liver cancers. Overall, not including sex-specific or breast cancers, men's death rates are 1.9 times higher than women's, according to the new research.

Scientists already knew men were at higher risk for developing most cancers, but it wasn't clear if men also died more from cancer. Researchers from the National Cancer Institute pooled together cancer death rates between 1977 and 2006 from a large U.S. cancer database.

They found for the vast majority of cancers, men were more likely to die than women. Only three cancers kill more women than men (well, besides the ones men don’t get): the relatively rare peritoneum, omentum and mesentery; gall bladder; and anus, anal canal and anorectum cancers. The research was published online Tuesday in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

The reason? It's not necessarily that women are better than men at surviving cancer once they have it. The authors write in their discussion:

"This supports the idea that sex disparities in cancer mortality arise from the sex differences in cancer incidence. ... It is feasible that differential environmental exposures and/or physiologic processes, such as sex hormones, could explain the observed sex disparities in survival."

Such factors include differences in lifestyle. For example, the researchers found that men are more than five times as likely to die from lip and larynx cancers, two cancers linked to tobacco and heavy alcohol use.

healthkey@tribune.com

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