Body mass index and waist circumference in relation to lung cancer risk in the Women's Health Initiative

Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Jul 15;168(2):158-69. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwn109. Epub 2008 May 15.


Investigators in several epidemiologic studies have observed an inverse association between body mass index (BMI) and lung cancer risk, while others have not. The authors used data from the Women's Health Initiative to study the association of anthropometric factors with lung cancer risk. Over 8 years of follow-up (1998-2006), 1,365 incident lung cancer cases were ascertained among 161,809 women. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate hazard ratios adjusted for covariates. Baseline BMI was inversely associated with lung cancer in current smokers (highest quintile vs. lowest: hazard ratio (HR) = 0.62, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.42, 0.92). When BMI and waist circumference were mutually adjusted, BMI was inversely associated with lung cancer risk in both current smokers and former smokers (HR = 0.40 (95% CI: 0.22, 0.72) and HR = 0.61 (95% CI: 0.40, 0.94), respectively), and waist circumference was positively associated with risk (HR = 1.56 (95% CI: 0.91, 2.69) and HR = 1.50 (95% CI: 0.98, 2.31), respectively). In never smokers, height showed a borderline positive association with lung cancer. These findings suggest that in smokers, BMI is inversely associated with lung cancer risk and that waist circumference is positively associated with risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / anatomy & histology*
  • Adiposity
  • Aged
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Waist-Hip Ratio