Lung cancer in Asian women-the environment and genes

Respirology. 2005 Sep;10(4):408-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1843.2005.00723.x.


The mortality rate of lung cancer in Asian women has increased significantly in the past few decades. Environmental factors include tobacco smoke (active and environmental), other indoor pollutions (cooking oil vapours, coal burning, fungus spores), diet, and infections. Active tobacco smoking is not the major factor. The relative risk of lung cancer among non-smoking women ever exposed to environmental smoke from their husbands was 1.20 from a meta-analysis. Cooking oil vapours associated with high temperature wok cooking and indoor coal burning for heating and cooking in unvented homes, particularly in rural areas, are risk factors for Chinese women. Chronic benign respiratory diseases due to the fungus Microsporum canis probably accounts for the high incidence of lung cancer in northern Thai women at Sarapee. Diets rich in fruits, leafy green vegetables, and vitamin A are protective, while cured meat (Chinese sausage, pressed duck and cured pork), deep-fried cooking, and chili increased the risk. Tuberculosis is associated with lung cancer. Also, a Taiwanese study showed that the odds ratio of papillomavirus (HPV) 16/18 infection in non-smoking female lung cancer patients was 10.1, strongly suggesting a causative role. Genetic factors have also been studied in Chinese women, including human leucocyte antigens, K-ras oncogene activation, p53 mutation, polymorphisms of phase I activating enzymes (cytochrome P450, N-acetyltransferase slow acetylator status), and phase II detoxifying enzymes (glutathione-S-transferases, N-acetyltransferase rapid acetylator status). New molecular screening technology would facilitate identification of molecular targets for future studies. The interaction between environmental and genetic factors should also be further elucidated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution / adverse effects
  • Asian People / genetics*
  • Asian People / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects