A new study says cancer rates are higher in Downstate Illinois. The report from the Illinois Department of Health and the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine compares cancer statistics over 20 years in 73 Downstate counties to the northern part of the state, and finds that Downstate, mortality rates are higher and survival rates are lower.
Dr. David Steward of the SIU School of Medicine, a co-author of the report, says lung cancer is especially more common Downstate, but smoking may not be the only reason.
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“There are environmental hazards or other things related to some of the former industries in Southern Illinois,” Steward said. “In fact, even radon exposure in some parts of Southern Illinois is known to be pretty high, and that could be another contributing factor to the lung cancer problem.”
Steward says the lung cancer rate among men Downstate is more than 20 percent higher than in Northern Illinois, and even higher than that among Downstate African-Americans.