Objective: In Korea, male smoking prevalence is among the world's highest, and mortality rates from smoking-caused cancers, particularly lung cancer, are escalating. This cohort study examined the effects of cigarette smoking on the risk of cancer mortality and incidence, and characterized the relationship of cancer risk with the amount and duration of cigarette smoking.
Method: A nine-year prospective cohort study was carried out on 1,212,906 Koreans, 30-95 years of age. The study population includes participants in a national insurance program, who completed a questionnaire on smoking and other risk factors. The main outcome measures were death from cancer and cancer incidence, obtained through record linkage. At baseline, 472,970 men (57.0%) and 20,548 (5.4%) women were current cigarette smokers.
Results: In multivariate Cox proportional hazards models, controlling for age, current smoking among men increased the risks of mortality for cancer of the lung (relative risk (RR), 4.6; 95% confidence interval (CI), 4.0-5.3) and other cancers, including larynx, bile duct, esophagus, liver, stomach, pancreas, bladder, and also leukemia. Current smoking among women increased the risk of lung cancer mortality (RR = 2.5, 95% CI = 2.0-3.1). Similar results were found for incidence among men and women.
Conclusion: In Korea, smoking is an independent risk factor for a number of major cancers. The findings affirm the need for aggressive tobacco control in Korea in order to minimize the epidemic of smoking-caused disease.