For the first time, women's death rates from lung cancer are dropping. The decline is small, just less than 1 percent a year. And lung cancer remains the nation's, and the world's, leading cancer killer.
But the long-anticipated drop, coming more than a decade after a similar decline began in U.S. men, is a hopeful sign.
"We think this downward trend is real, and we think it will continue," said Elizabeth Ward of the American Cancer Society, co-author of Thursday's report. Lung cancer is expected to kill more than 159,000 Americans this year, nearly 70,500 of them women.
Overall, death rates from cancer have been inching down for years, thanks mostly to gains against some leading types — colorectal, breast, prostate and, in men, lung cancer. The report shows death rates falling an average of 1.6 percent a year between 2003 and 2007, the latest data available. Rates of new diagnoses declined nearly 1 percent a year, researchers reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Study: Prostate cancer test doesn't save lives
The longest study yet on prostate cancer testing provides more evidence that getting screened doesn't cut the chances of dying from the disease. In a 20-year study of more than 9,000 Swedish men, researchers found no difference in the rate of prostate cancer deaths between men who were periodically screened and those who weren't. The study was paid for by the Swedish Cancer Foundation and published online Thursday in the journal BMJ.
Critics say routine screening for prostate cancer leads to unnecessary biopsies and treatment that can have serious side effects, with little proof that it saves lives. Testing involves a physical exam and a PSA blood test that looks for high levels of prostate specific antigen. A positive result must be confirmed by a biopsy. The American Cancer Society does not recommend routine screening for most men.
FDA panel votes to study food dyes
An advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration recommended Thursday that the agency further study the link between food coloring and childhood hyperactivity, but said products that contain the dyes do not need package warnings. The committee, made up of doctors, academics and consumer representatives, voted 8 to 6 that food packages don't need warnings flagging food colorings that could affect attention deficit disorder in children.
Packages now must list the food colorings, but there is no warning about a possible link to hyperactivity. The panel agreed with the FDA and affirmed that there is not enough evidence to show that certain food dyes cause hyperactivity in the general population of children. They also agreed that diets eliminating food dyes may work for some children.