Objectives: To study the association between diet and lung cancer mortality in the United States.
Methods: Records from 20,195 participants with usable dietary data in the 1987 National Health Interview Survey were linked to the National Death Index. Baseline diet was assessed with a 59-item food-frequency questionnaire. Food groups (fruits, vegetables, total meat/poultry/fish, red meats, processed meats, dairy products, breakfast cereals, other starches, added fats, and alcohol) were analyzed in cause-specific Cox proportional hazard regression models adjusted for age, gender and smoking.
Results: There were 158 deaths from lung cancer (median follow-up 8.5 years). Frequencies of meat/poultry/fish intake (relative risk [RR] (highest compared to lowest quartile) = 2.0; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2-3.5, p for trend [p] < 0.027), and red meat intake (RR = 1.6; CI 1.0-2.6, p < 0.014), were positively and significantly associated with lung cancer mortality. Specifically, the red meats, including pork (RR = 1.6; CI 1.0-2.7, p < 0.028), and ground beef (RR = 2.0; CI 1.1-3.5, p < 0.096) were associated with increased risk, although for ground beef the trend was not significant. Dairy products (RR = 0.5; CI 0.3-0.8, p < 0.009) were inversely associated with lung cancer mortality. There was no statistically significant association between intake of fruits and vegetables and lung cancer mortality.
Conclusions: In this nationally representative study, intake of red meats was positively associated with lung cancer mortality while intake of dairy products was inversely associated. While smoking is the major risk for lung cancer mortality, diet may have a contributory role.