Background: Domestic fuel combustion from cooking and heating is an important public health issue because roughly 3 billion people are exposed worldwide. Recently, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified indoor emissions from household coal combustion as a human carcinogen (group 1) and from biomass fuel (primarily wood) as a probable human carcinogen (group 2A).
Objectives: We pooled seven studies from the International Lung Cancer Consortium (5,105 cases and 6,535 controls) to provide further epidemiological evaluation of the association between in-home solid-fuel use, particularly wood, and lung cancer risk.
Methods: Using questionnaire data, we classified subjects as predominant solid-fuel users (e.g., coal, wood) or nonsolid-fuel users (e.g., oil, gas, electricity). Unconditional logistic regression was used to estimate the odds ratios (ORs) and to compute 95% confidence intervals (CIs), adjusting for age, sex, education, smoking status, race/ethnicity, and study center.
Results: Compared with nonsolid-fuel users, predominant coal users (OR = 1.64; 95% CI, 1.49-1.81), particularly coal users in Asia (OR = 4.93; 95% CI, 3.73-6.52), and predominant wood users in North American and European countries (OR = 1.21; 95% CI, 1.06-1.38) experienced higher risk of lung cancer. The results were similar in never-smoking women and other subgroups.
Conclusions: Our results are consistent with previous observations pertaining to in-home coal use and lung cancer risk, support the hypothesis of a carcinogenic potential of in-home wood use, and point to the need for more detailed study of factors affecting these associations.