Scotland is UK’s lung cancer capital thanks to cigarettes

More cases of lung cancer than breast cancer in Scotland
More cases of lung cancer than breast cancer in Scotland
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Lung cancer remains the most common form of the disease in Scotland, according to a charity’s latest figures.

Statistics due out today show Scotland is the only part of the UK with more cases of lung cancer than breast cancer.

The Cancer Research UK figures show around 5,000 lung cancer cases were recorded in Scotland in 2009, compared with around 4,400 cases of breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common form of the disease in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as the UK overall.

According to the charity, around 2,600 men and 2,350 women in Scotland had lung cancer in 2009.

The figures also show 4,050 lung cancer deaths were recorded in Scotland in 2010, with 2,100 men and 1,950 women dying.

The charity said it shows the “deadly impact” of tobacco and called for all cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging with large health warnings.

Jean King, director of the charity’s tobacco control, said: “The high number of cases reflects the number of smokers from several decades ago when attitudes were different. Tobacco advertising hasn’t appeared on UK TV since 1965, but that didn’t stop the marketing of cigarettes.

“New, more sophisticated marketing techniques have lured many thousands into starting an addiction that will kill half of all long-term smokers.

“It’s vital that the UK closes one of the last remaining loopholes that portrays smoking as something glamorous and safe, rather than the lethal product it truly is.

“Ending the packet racket and putting all cigarettes in plain packs with large health warnings is key.

“No-one wants to see children take up smoking and while plain packs won’t stop everyone from smoking, it will give millions of children one less reason to start.”

The charity said lung cancer was the most common cancer in the UK until the late 1990s. It was overtaken in 1997 by breast cancer, but still accounts for 14 per cent of all new cancer cases in men and 11 per cent in women.

The new figures also show that the total number of UK lung cancer deaths stands at almost 35,000, as of 2010.

Cancer Research UK said anti-smoking measures, such as the tobacco advertising ban and the legislation making public places smoke-free have seen the number of smokers continue to drop.

However, it wants to further reduce tobacco marketing to children by removing all branding from packaging.

Michelle Fraser, 30, from Dundee, lost her mother Muriel, 54, to lung cancer and is backing the charity’s call over packaging. She said: “My mum was a smoker and though she managed to stop for 16 years, she had not long started again.

“After seeing my mum go through what she did, I don’t understand how anyone can smoke and many of my family members have since managed to kick the habit.

“As a mum, I hope that much more is done to deter children from starting smoking in the first place, including putting all cigarettes in plain packs.”

Sara Hiom, the charity’s information director, said: “Lung cancer continues to claim far too many lives.

“More than four in five cases of the disease are caused directly by smoking. But nearly one in five cases is not.

“It’s important that anyone with a cough that lasts for three weeks or a change in a long-standing cough get checked.”