Risk factors for lung cancer in the Pakistani population

Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014;15(7):3035-9. doi: 10.7314/apjcp.2014.15.7.3035.


Background: Lung cancer is one of the most prevalent malignancies in the world and both incidence and mortality rates are continuing to rise in Pakistan. However, epidemiological studies to identify common lung cancer determinants in the Pakistani population have been limited.

Materials and methods: In this retrospective case-control study, 400 cases and 800 controls were enrolled from different hospitals of all provinces of Pakistan. Information about socio-demographic, occupational, lifestyle and dietary variables was extracted by questionnaire from all subjects. Odd ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated. and dose-response associations were also assessed for suitable factors.

Results: Strong associations were observed for smoking (OR=9.4, 95%CI=6.9-12.8), pesticide exposure (OR=5.1, 95%CI=3.1-8.3), exposure to diesel exhaust (OR=3.1, 95%CI=2.1-4.5), red meat consumption (OR=2.9, 95%CI=1.8-4.7) and chicken consumption (OR=2.8, 95%CI=1.7-49). Other associated factors observed were welding fumes (OR=2.5, 95%CI=1.0-6.5), sedentary living (OR=2.0, 95%CI=1.6-2.6), family history (OR=2.0, 95%CI=0.8-4.9), wood dust (OR=1.9, 95%CI=1.2- 3.1), tea consumption (OR=1.8, 95%CI=1.2-2.6), coffee consumption (OR=1.8, 95%CI=1.1-2.8), alcoholism (OR=1.7, 95%CI=1.1-2.5) and asbestos exposure(OR=1.5, 95%CI=0.5-4.4). Consumption of vegetables (OR=0.3, 95%CI=0.2-0.4), juices (OR=0.3, 95%CI=0.3-0.4), fruits (OR=0.7, 95%CI=0.5-0.9) and milk (OR=0.6, 95%CI=0.5- 0.8) showed reduction in risk of lung cancer. Strongest dose-response relationships were observed for smoking (?2=333.8, p≤0.0000001), pesticide exposure (?2=50.9, p≤0.0000001) and exposure to diesel exhaust (?2=51.8, p≤0.0000001).

Conclusions: Smoking, pesticide exposure, diesel exhaust and meat consumption are main lung cancer determinants in Pakistan. Consuming vegetables, fruits, milk and juices can reduce the risk of lung cancer risk, as in other countries.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diet
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms*
  • Male
  • Meat
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Pakistan
  • Pesticides / toxicity*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegetables
  • Vehicle Emissions / toxicity*


  • Pesticides
  • Vehicle Emissions