Relation of childhood brain tumors to exposure of parents and children to tobacco smoke: the SEARCH international case-control study. Surveillance of Environmental Aspects Related to Cancer in Humans

Int J Cancer. 2002 Jul 10;100(2):206-13. doi: 10.1002/ijc.10465.


The etiology of childhood brain tumors (CBTs) remains unknown. Tobacco smoke contains several known carcinogens and can induce DNA adducts in human placenta and hemoglobin adducts in fetuses. We present the results of an international case-control study to evaluate the association between CBTs and exposure of parents and children to cigarette smoke. The study was undertaken as part of the SEARCH program of the IARC. Nine centers in 7 countries were involved. The studies mainly covered the 1980s and early 1990s. Cases (1,218, ages 0-19 years) were children newly diagnosed with a primary brain tumor; there were 2,223 population-based controls. Most mothers who agreed to participate were interviewed in person at home. Odds ratios (ORs) were calculated by unconditional logistic regression, adjusted for age, sex and center, for all types of CBT combined, 4 CBT histotypes, 5 age groups and each center. There was no association between the risk of brain tumors in the child and parental smoking prior to pregnancy, maternal smoking or regular exposure to others' cigarette smoke during pregnancy at home or at work, or passive smoking by the child during the first year of life. These results did not change considering the child's age at diagnosis, the histologic type of tumor or center.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Astrocytoma / epidemiology
  • Astrocytoma / etiology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Brain Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Fetus / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Mothers
  • Population Surveillance
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution