Environmental tobacco smoke and lung cancer mortality in the American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention Study II

Victor M. Cardenas, Michael J. Thun, Harland Austin, Cathy A. Lally, W. Scott Clark, Raymond S. Greenberg, Clark W. Heath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) has been classified as a human lung carcinogen by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), based both on the chemical similarity of sidestream and mainstream smoke and on slightly higher lung cancer risk in never-smokers whose spouses smoke compared with those married to nonsmokers. We evaluated the relation between ETS and lung cancer prospectively in the US, among 114,286 female and 19,549 male never-smokers, married to smokers, compared with about 77,000 female and 77,000 male never-smokers whose spouses did not smoke. Multivariate analyses, based on 247 lung cancer deaths, controlled for age, race, diet, and occupation. Dose-response analyses were restricted to 92,222 women whose husbands provided complete information on cigarette smoking and date of marriage. Lung cancer death rates, adjusted for other factors, were 20 percent higher among women whose husbands ever smoked during the current marriage than among those married to never-smokers (relative risk [RR] = 1.2, 95 percent confidence interval [CI] = 0.8-1.6). For never-smoking men whose wives smoked, the RR was 1.1 (CI = 0.6-1.8). Risk among women was similar or higher when the husband continued to smoke (RR = 1.2, CI = 0.8-1.8), or smoked 40 or more cigarettes per day (RR = 1.9, CI = 1.0-3.6), but did not increase with years of marriage to a smoker. Most CIs included the null. Although generally not statistically significant, these results agree with the EPA summary estimate that spousal smoking increases lung cancer risk by about 20 percent in never-smoking women. Even large prospective studies have limited statistical power to measure precisely the risk from ETS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-64
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Causes and Control
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Environmental tobacco smoke
  • Lung cancer
  • Nonsmokers
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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