Missouri, Arkansas among highest lung cancer rates in the nation

SPRINGFIELD,Mo. (KY3) -- A new report from the finds Missouri and Arkansas have some of the highest rates of lung cancer in the U.S.

The American Lung Association finds Missouri's rate of new lung cancer cases is at 73 cases per 100,000 people. Arkansas' rate is 78 cases. The national average is 59 cases.

Springfield-Greene County Health Department assistant director Jon Mooney said the primary suspect in lung cancer cases is tobacco.

"Tobacco use is a problem in Missouri [and] It's certainly a problem in our community," he said. "We've seen rates increase recently too, and that's even more concern, that the most harmful substances for people that leads to a lot of chronic diseases [and] a lot of suffering and death is on the rise in our community."

Mooney said the Missouri's lung cancer statistics don't come as a shock.

"When we see high tobacco rates we expect that there's going to be high incidents of lung cancer, other lung diseases, heart disease," he said.

Mooney said although there has been a drastic increase in e-cigarette users in the last few years, it doesn't mean people in Greene county are shying away from traditional cigarettes.

"That percent has gone from 20% a couple of years ago up to 22% in our community, so it's certainly going the wrong way," he said. "That's just of traditional cigarettes, so we know that e-cigarette use is also increasing as well."

The growing trend among teens has the health department expecting worse results in the future. Mooney said roughly 2/3 of youth that begin with e-cigs will move on to traditional cigarettes.

"So unfortunately our belief right now is that it's feeding in to the addiction of tobacco," he said.

Click HERE to view the "State of Lung Cancer" report.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.