Lung Cancer in Nonsmoking Women: A Multicenter Case-Control Study

Elizabeth T.H. Fontham, Pelayo Correa, Vivien W. Chen, Anna Wu-Williams, Peggy Reynolds, Donald F. Austin, Raymond S. Greenberg, Jonathan Liff, Patricia A. Buffler, Toni Alterman, Peggy Boyd, S. Donald Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and lung cancer in female lifetime nonsmokers was evaluated using data collected during the first 3 years of an ongoing case-control study. This large, multicenter, population-based study was designed to minimize some of the methodological problems which have been of concern in previous studies of environmental tobacco smoke and lung cancer. Both a cancer control group and a population control group were selected in order to evaluate recall bias. A uniform histopathological review of diagnostic material was conducted for case confirmation and detailed classification. Biochemical determination of current exposure to tobacco and screening of multiple sources of information to determine lifetime nonuse were utilized to minimize misclassification of smokers as nonsmokers. A 30% increased risk of lung cancer was associated with exposure to environmental tobacco smoke from a spouse, and a 50% increase was observed for adenocarcinoma of the lung. A statistically significant positive trend in risk was observed as pack-years of exposure from a spouse increased, reaching a relative risk of 1.7 for pulmonary adenocarcinoma with exposures of 80 or more pack-years. The predominant cell type of the reviewed, eligible lung cancer cases was adenocarcinoma (78%). Results were very similar when cases were compared to each control group and when separate analyses were conducted for surrogate and personal respondents. Other adult-life exposures in household, occupational, and social settings were each associated with a 40-60% increased risk of adenocarcinoma of the lung. No association was found between risk of any type of lung cancer and childhood exposures from a father, mother, or other household members.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-43
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology


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