Tobacco smoking as a risk factor for colon polyps

Am J Public Health. 1991 Jul;81(7):846-9. doi: 10.2105/ajph.81.7.846.


Background: Data from a cancer screening project among pattern makers were used to evaluate the association between tobacco smoking and prevalence of colon polyps.

Methods: From 1981-1983, 549 White men were examined by flexible sigmoidoscopy and completed self-administered questionnaires including smoking histories.

Results: One or more colon polyps were detected in 76 men. Standardized prevalence rates (SPR) for polyps increased by smoking category (never smoked = 0.094; ex-smokers = 0.118, current smokers = 0.214) and by cigarettes per day, years of smoking, and pack-years among both current and ex-smokers. Both adenomatous and hyperplastic polyps showed an association with smoking while other types of polyps and polyps with unspecified histology did not. The risk associated with smoking was greater for polyps greater than one centimeter in diameter. An interaction with occupational exposures was suggested by a greater increase in the SPR for polyps among current smokers employed as pattern makers for more than 10 years than among current smokers similarly employed for 10 years or less.

Conclusions: Since at least some colon polyps are considered precursor lesions to colon cancer, one of the most common cancers in the United States, this report suggests that the possible link between colon polyps and smoking deserves further evaluation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Colonic Polyps / epidemiology*
  • Colonic Polyps / pathology
  • Colonic Polyps / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / pathology
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology