Dietary cholesterol, fatty acids, and the risk of lung cancer among men

Nutr Cancer. 1991;16(3-4):267-75. doi: 10.1080/01635589109514165.


The relation between dietary cholesterol and fatty acids and the incidence of lung cancer was studied among 4,538 Finnish men aged 20-69 years and initially free of cancer. During 20 years of follow-up, 117 lung cancer cases were diagnosed. Cholesterol intake was not associated with lung cancer risk, the age-, smoking-, and energy-adjusted relative risk between the lowest and highest tertiles being 1.0 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.6-1.9]. The intake of saturated fatty acids was nonsignificantly related with lung cancer incidence, the relative risk for the lowest compared with the highest tertile being 1.6 (CI = 0.8-3.2). The association was stronger among smokers than among nonsmokers, the relative risks being 2.1 (CI = 1.0-4.3) and 1.3 (CI = 0.4-4.1), respectively. The relative risk among smokers, however, decreased to 1.5 after adjustment for the amount they smoked. In the total cohort, there was a significantly elevated risk of lung cancer among men with a high intake of butter, one of the main sources of saturated fatty acids, the relative risk being 1.9 (CI = 1.1-3.2). The present data do not confirm previous results suggesting that dietary cholesterol predicts the occurrence of lung cancer among men. The association between intake of saturated fatty acids and lung cancer observed in the present study may be partly due to heavy smoking among high consumers of saturated fat.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Cholesterol, Dietary / adverse effects*
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects*
  • Energy Intake
  • Fatty Acids / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk
  • Smoking / adverse effects


  • Cholesterol, Dietary
  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids