How did cigarette mass production and marketing affect lung cancer rates?

Thomas A. Hensing, MD
Hematology & Oncology
Prior to the 1920s, lung cancer was so unusual it was reported in medical literature whenever it occurred. With the introduction of cigarettes -- in particular, the match and mass production of cigarettes -- we saw the typical 20-year line between the introduction of smoking and the development of lung cancer. Women weren’t smoking at the rates of men until the 1960s, when the Virginia Slims ad campaign “You’ve come a long way, baby” was introduced. Then we saw in the 1980s that lung cancer instances were spiking in women. Then lung cancer overtook breast cancer and uterine and ovarian cancer as the major cancer killer in women. If the next generation of Americans never smoked, lung cancer would again begin to become an uncommon disease.

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