Risk factors for lung cancer among nonsmoking women

Int J Cancer. 2002 Aug 20;100(6):706-13. doi: 10.1002/ijc.10549.


To evaluate risk factors for lung cancer in nonsmoking women, we used data of a case-control study conducted between 1991 and 1996 in Germany. A total of 234 female histologically confirmed lung cancer patients and 535 population controls who had never smoked more than 400 cigarettes in their lifetime were personally interviewed with respect to occupation, exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), family history of cancer, prior physician-diagnosed lung diseases or cancer and diet. One-year radon measurements in the last dwelling were performed. Odds ratios (OR) adjusted for age and region and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated via logistic regression. When cumulative duration of exposure to ETS in hours was considered, the OR for high compared to not or low ETS exposed women was 2.62 (CI:1.35-5.06) for occupational exposure and OR=1.67 (CI:0.86-3.25) for spousal exposure, exhibiting a significant trend for ETS at work. Working more than 10 years in jobs or industries with known or suspected lung carcinogens was associated with OR=2.0 (CI:0.99-4.0). An elevated risk due to prior lung diseases was present for pneumonia (OR=1.6; CI:1.07-2.40) and tuberculosis (OR=1.6; CI:0.77-3.37). No significant increase in risk with increasing residential radon levels or with the presence of a family history of lung cancer was apparent. Protective effects were observed for high vs. low consumption of fresh vegetables (OR=0.5; CI:0.25-0.82) and cheese (OR=0.3, CI:0.21-0.55). ETS at work, occupational hazards and previous pneumonia may be risk factors for lung cancer in nonsmoking women, while a diet rich in fresh vegetables and cheese seems to be protective.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Odds Ratio
  • Radon / adverse effects
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking


  • Radon