Background: Inverse associations between cruciferous vegetable intake and lung cancer risk have been consistently reported. However, associations within smoking status subgroups have not been consistently addressed.
Methods: We conducted a hospital-based case-control study with lung cancer cases and controls matched on smoking status, and further adjusted for smoking status, duration, and intensity in the multivariate models. A total of 948 cases and 1743 controls were included in the analysis.
Results: Inverse linear trends were observed between intake of fruits, total vegetables, and cruciferous vegetables and risk of lung cancer (ORs ranged from 0.53-0.70, with P for trend < 0.05). Interestingly, significant associations were observed for intake of fruits and total vegetables with lung cancer among never smokers. Conversely, significant inverse associations with cruciferous vegetable intake were observed primarily among smokers, in particular former smokers, although significant interactions were not detected between smoking and intake of any food group. Of four lung cancer histological subtypes, significant inverse associations were observed primarily among patients with squamous or small cell carcinoma - the two subtypes more strongly associated with heavy smoking.
Conclusions: Our findings are consistent with the smoking-related carcinogen-modulating effect of isothiocyanates, a group of phytochemicals uniquely present in cruciferous vegetables. Our data support consumption of a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables may reduce the risk of lung cancer among smokers.