Portable stove use is associated with lower lung cancer mortality risk in lifetime smoky coal users

Br J Cancer. 2008 Dec 2;99(11):1934-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604744.


Domestic fuel combustion from cooking and heating, to which about 3 billion people worldwide are exposed, is associated with increased lung cancer risk. Lung cancer incidence in Xuanwei is the highest in China, and the attributable risk of lung cancer from unvented smoky coal burning is greater than 90%. To evaluate any lung cancer mortality reduction after changing from unvented stoves to portable stoves, we used lifetime smoky coal users in a retrospective cohort of all farmers born during 1917-1951 and residing in Xuanwei in 1976. Of the 42,422 enrolled farmers, 4054 lifetime smoky coal users changed to portable stoves, 4364 did not change, and 1074 died of lung cancer. Lung cancer morality associated with stove change was assessed by product-limit survival curves and multivariate Cox regression models. Both men (P<0.0001) and women (P<0.0001) who changed to portable stoves had a significantly increased probability of survival compared with those who did not change. Portable stoves were associated with decreased risk of lung cancer mortality in male participants (hazard ratio (HR)=0.62, 95% confidence interval (CI)=0.46-0.82) and female participants (HR=0.41, 95% CI=0.29-0.57). Portable stove use is associated with reduced lung cancer mortality risk, highlighting a cost-effective intervention that could substantially benefit health in developing countries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects*
  • China / epidemiology
  • Coal / adverse effects*
  • Cooking / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Male
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Smoke / adverse effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Ventilation


  • Coal
  • Smoke