Kentucky continues to lead the nation in cancer related deaths. Lung cancer cases in Appalachia are way above the national average. Smoking has been cited for decades as a contributing factor.
However, Kentucky Cancer Registry Director Tom Tucker says more attention is also being given to chemicals in the ground namely arsenic and chromium.
"So we believe that, it's not that smoking isn't an issue, but it's smoking in the presence of some of these other things like arsenic, or chromium, or radon is another issue in the eastern Appalachian area. That the risks go from about ten to eleven times that of a non-smoker to as much as 300 times that of a non-smoker,” says Tucker.
Tucker adds that more attention is focusing on the chemical elements arsenic and chromium.
"One of the things we're looking at right now is how does that arsenic and chromium get into the human being. The water supply is an easy suspect, but early evidence suggests that may not be the source, so we're working on that question right now,” adds Tucker.
Tucker says more and more studies indicate there could be environmental factors along with high smoking rates which make Kentucky the leading state for cancer related deaths.