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Officials Link Fridley's Elevated Cancer Rates to Smoking Statistics

Survey shows people in Anoka County smoke at higher rates than those in other counties.

On Monday the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and that showed overall cancer rates lower than the previous estimate of 10 percent—but even in the new figures, lung cancer rates for Fridley remained elevated well above the state average.

Lung and bronchus cancer rates for the the first decade of the 2000s were 30 percent higher than expected in Fridley, and 49 percent higher for women. In the 1990s, the rates were more than 10 percent.

Health department officials now attribute these statistical spikes to Anoka County’s high smoking rates.

“Anoka County is the third highest in the state for lung and bronchus cancer,” said MDH epidemiologist John Soler. “We know what the main cause of lung cancer is, and it’s smoking, and that elevated lung cancer rate drives up the overall cancer rates.”

More than 50 percent of Anoka County residents are current or former smokers, according to a public health survey conducted in 2010. For the other five counties included in the survey, no more than 42 percent of their residents were current or former smokers.

Smoking Status by County
(According to 2010 Metro Adult Health Survey.) 

County Current smoker Former smoker Never smoked Anoka 23 percent 27 percent 50 percent Carver 12 24 64 Dakota 13 28 59 Ramsey 16 26 58 Scott 12 26 62 Washington 11 24 65

Dr. Tom Amatruda, a genetic specialist at Minnesota Oncology in Fridlay, said that elevated cancer rates in Fridley are likely caused primarily by the popularity of smoking in the city 20 years ago.

“Lung cancer is caused by tobacco,” he said. “Anoka County has had access to tobacco in bars [historically], whereas Ramsey and Hennepin County have closed that down so it’s kind of more smoker friendly and therefore more cancer friendly.”

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