Two bits of good news from the comments. Firstly (H/T Harley and Kin-Free), the French are smoking more (and also the Albanians and Czechs):
Europeans Keep Smoking Crown as French Cigarette Use Rises
About 28 percent of adults smoked in 2011 in Europe as more French picked up the habit, according to statistics released today by the World Health Organization’s regional office in Copenhagen…
Smoking rose in France, Albania and the Czech Republic between 2005 and 2011, while rates in Switzerland have remained about the same. Russia has the highest rate of men smoking and Austria leads in women smoking…
European smoking rates dropped 7 percentage points between 2005 and 2011, according to the WHO. One of the biggest declines was in the U.K., where smoking dropped to 22 percent for both men and women in 2011 from 37 percent and 35 percent in 2005 respectively.
Austrian women led an increase in female smoking with a 7 percentage point increase, while such figures increased by 3 percentage points or more in France, the Czech Republic and Lithuania between 2005 and 2011, according to WHO data.
I’d dispute the suggestion that UK smoking prevalence was 37% for men, 35% for women, in 2005. That would have put Britons in the same league as Bulgaria. To the best of my knowledge it was 23% prevalence. So a fall to 22% is unremarkable.
The Russians are the world’s champion smokers with 60% male prevalence, because – second bit of good news – Fredrick Eich has found that, despite not having engaged in a war on tobacco for the past 60 years, Russian lung cancer rates have begun to fall in line with US lung cancer rates (see right) – which would rather suggest that if the global lung cancer epidemic has peaked, it wasn’t smoking that drove it.
Fredrick Eich also has (on another page) a graph showing US lung cancer incidence:
I must say that I’m a bit suspicious of these falls in lung cancer rates. Although the peaks are in the same places, the graph above shows US male lung cancer mortality peaking at about 135 per 100,000. But the first graph shows it peaking at about 48 per 100,000. Which is a huge disparity.
Also the lower graph uses figures from the 35 – 69 age range, when it’s well known that cancer is very largely a disease of old age. i.e. after age 69. It may well be that cancer rates are falling in the lower age range, and produce these peaks. But GaryK has in the past produced figures showing US incidence/mortality continuing to rise (perhaps he could rustle them up again?). As I have also done for the EU.
Anyway, Fredrick Eich thinks that nuclear fallout offers a better explanation for lung cancer incidence, and shows the following graph, in which inhalation exposure drops sharply after 1985 – roughly the time when lung cancer peaked (if it peaked):
The peak of this logarithmic scale graph is in about 1964. The lung cancer peak came in about 1984. Which would suggest a delay of about 20 years from inhaling radioactive fallout to developing lung cancer.
In my Fallout Hypothesis, I showed that Cesium-137 deposition in the south-eastern USA corresponded geographically with lung cancer mortality. Fredrik Eich pointed out that this also corresponded to highest US rainfall, which would have washed more radioactive fallout out of the atmosphere in that region.
Last week GaryK said that these were the poorest states in the USA. I think that I’m probably right in saying that these are also states with principally agricultural products – tobacco, cotton, sugar cane, wheat, etc. If so, they probably had large numbers of adult males working outdoors, where they would be much more exposed to fallout than women working indoors.
I returned to the Fallout Hypothesis last week with An Evolutionary Model of Cancer, in which I succeeded with a simple computer model in getting cells to multiply more rapidly into voids left by dead cells – and in particular voids created by a radioactive dust particles – to form tumours. It took quite a long time for the tumours to develop.
I think this is a very interesting model, and I’ve been developing it a bit more in recent days, and may post some more about it soon. Meanwhile GaryK has left a few questions to ponder on, such as:
1. Are heavier particles more deadly than the lighter ones?
2. How much radioactivity does it take to cause mutation?
3. Since all breathe and are exposed to the dust, should not all get cancer?
4. Why does the state’s poverty rate seem to make a difference?
5. Since most atomic tests were underground, does that make a difference?
My current answers are: 1) I don’t know, but they probably are because there will be more material firing off more alpha and beta particles. 2) In my simulation model, radioactivity was killing cells, not mutating them. I didn’t assume any mutation, but simply that daughter cells would naturally reproduce at the same rate, or slightly faster or slower than their parent cells. 3) People who work outdoors, and who are digging up contaminated soils (which is where fallout would have ended up), are likely to inhale more radioactive fallout than people living indoors. 4) I don’t think it’s poverty per se that matters, but whether people work outdoors or not. 5) Up until the Test Ban treaty in the 1960s, both the USA and the USSR were detonating numerous ever-larger nuclear weapons in the atmosphere. Underground tests were a relatively late development