Parental lung cancer as predictor of cancer risks in offspring: clues about multiple routes of harmful influence?

Int J Cancer. 2006 Feb 1;118(3):744-8. doi: 10.1002/ijc.21387.


The carcinogenic effects of active smoking have been demonstrated for many sites, but the effects of passive smoking and exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding are less well documented. We examined whether 0-70-year-old offspring of parents with lung cancer are at a risk of cancer that cannot be explained by their smoking or familial risk. It was assumed that known target sites for tobacco carcinogenesis would be affected, if any. The nationwide Swedish Family-Cancer Database with cancers recorded from 1958 to 2002 was used to calculate age-specific standardized incidence ratios (SIRs). Among offspring of affected mothers, increased risks were observed for upper aerodigestive (SIR 1.45), nasal (2.93), lung (1.71) and bladder (1.52) cancers and for kidney cancer (6.41) in one age group. The risk of bladder cancer was found in younger age groups than that of lung cancer. Cancers at many of these sites, but not the kidney or the bladder, were in excess in offspring of affected fathers. Nasal cancer was even increased when either parent was diagnosed with lung cancer; the highest risk was for nasal adenoid cystic carcinoma (7.73). The data suggest that passive smoking during childhood is associated with an increase risk of nasal cancer. For bladder and kidney cancers, a contribution by tobacco carcinogens is implicated through breastfeeding and in utero exposure.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Databases as Topic
  • Digestive System Neoplasms / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Kidney Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nose Neoplasms / genetics
  • Parents*
  • Prognosis
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors
  • Sweden
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / genetics