Pubdate: Thu, 14 May 1998
Source: Scotsman (UK) 
Author: Jennifer Trueland, Health Correspondent


There has been a steep rise in the number of young men in Scotland dying
from tongue, mouth and throat cancers, which are linked to smoking and drinking.

The number of men between 35 and 39 dying from these cancers has risen by
400 per cent since 1970-74.

Cancers of the oesophagus and larynx in young men have also increased.

The trend is revealed in a study published yesterday in a supplement of the
'British Journal of Cancer' outlining the incidences and deaths from cancers
in Scotland. The study, funded by the Cancer Research Campaign (CRC), says
deaths from lung cancer in yonug men are falling, although they are
increasing in older women.

But the primary risk factor for cancers of the tongue, mouth and throat is a
combination of alcohol and tobacco.

Dr David Brewster, the director of the Scottish Cancer Registry, said: "This
rapid growth of deaths among relatively young men from a cancer that is
largely preventable is very concerning. These forms of cancer are closely
linked to drinking and smoking, and while each may provide a risk factor,
together they give massively increased odds of developing tumours of this type.

"Why this combination of carcinogens should provide such a high risk is not
known, but the habit of smoking and drinking together is certainly a deadly

Deaths from cancer among older people have risen, reflecting trends seen in
most western countries. And deaths from lung cancer among men who grew up
during the Second World War, when smoking was most common, dominate this trend.

Skin cancers have increased steeply and deaths from malignant melanoma have
doubled since the early 1950s. Younger women have experienced a bigger
increase than older women. However, younger men experienced a similar
increase to older men.

The incidence of malignant melanoma has increased fourfold over the same period.

More men are contracting testicular cancer, but death rates are falling
because of better treatment and awareness.

Professor John Wyke, the director of the CRC Beatson Laboratories in
Glasgow, said: "These statistics reveal Scotland is cursed with a health
problem that is largely related to smoking. Lung cancer is still a massive
problem and the effects of tobacco, when mixed with alcohol, are causing
terrible cancers, which, tragically, are largely preventable."

The figures were drawn up from research by the Scottish Health Service, the
General Register of Scotland and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical
Medicine, and form the basis of a CRC fact sheet.

Other findings are that lung cancer is still killing more Scottish women
than breast cancer and that breast cancer in young women has begun to fall.

Cervical cancer in women born in the 1960s is falling. Screening, which
picks up changes before they become cancerous, and changes in sexual
behaviour because of the fear of AIDS, are among the reasons given for this

Dr Melanie MacKean, a cancer clinician from the Western Infirmary in
Glasgow, said: "The most significant finding is that young men are dying
from head and neck tumours, which have been linked to alcohol and smoking.
The message to take from that is clear as these are pretty fatal cancers."

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Checked-by: Melodi Cornett