Analyzing medical records of nearly 1 million people, American Cancer Society researchers reported Tuesday that men who never used cigarettes actually had slightly higher death rates from lung cancer than women who never puffed.
"The conventional wisdom ... is wrong," concluded Dr. Michael Thun, lead author of the report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
However, more black women who had never smoked died of lung cancer than their white counterparts.
Lung cancer is the world's and the U.S.' most common and deadliest malignancy. Smoking cigarettes is the main cause, the AP reports.
But about 15,000 of the deaths will occur in people who never used cigarettes. Other known causes: breathing secondhand smoke; exposure to radon and asbestos; smoking other tobacco products; and high-dose radiation.
The gender issue made headlines this spring when lung cancer claimed lifelong nonsmoker Dana Reeve, widow of "Superman" movie star Christopher Reeve.
Thun analyzed two cancer-prevention studies that tracked more than 940,000 Americans' health for 20 years.
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