Lung cancer in lifetime nonsmoking men - results of a case-control study in Germany

Br J Cancer. 2001 Jan 5;84(1):134-40. doi: 10.1054/bjoc.2000.1518.


Epidemiological studies of lung cancer among nonsmoking men are few. This case-control study was conducted among lifetime nonsmoking men between 1990 and 1996 in Germany to examine lung cancer risk in relation to occupation, environmental tobacco smoke, residential radon, family history of cancer and previous lung disease. A total of 58 male cases with confirmed primary lung cancer and 803 male population controls who had never smoked more than 400 cigarettes in their lifetime were personally interviewed by a standardized questionnaire. In addition, 1-year radon measurements in the living and bedroom of the subjects' last dwelling were carried out. Unconditional logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). Having ever worked in a job with known lung carcinogens was associated with a two-fold significantly increased lung cancer risk (OR = 2.2; CI = 1.0-5.0), adjusted for age and region. The linear trend test for lung-cancer risk associated with radon exposure was close to statistical significance, demonstrating an excess relative risk for an increase in exposure of 100 Bq m(-3)of 0.43 (P = 0.052). Nonsignificantly elevated effects of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in public transportation and in social settings were observed. No associations with a family history of cancer or previous lung diseases were found. Our results indicate that occupational carcinogens and indoor radon may play a role in some lung cancers in nonsmoking men.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / epidemiology
  • Adenocarcinoma / etiology
  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants, Radioactive / adverse effects
  • Carcinogens, Environmental / adverse effects
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / etiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / etiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Occupations
  • Odds Ratio
  • Radon / adverse effects
  • Risk
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects


  • Air Pollutants, Radioactive
  • Carcinogens, Environmental
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Radon