Background: Coffee drinkers had a higher risk of lung cancer in some previous studies, but as heavy coffee drinkers tend to also be cigarette smokers, such findings could be confounded. Therefore, we examined this association in the nearly half a million participants of the US NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study.
Methods: Typical coffee intake and smoking history were queried at baseline. During 4 155 256 person-years of follow-up, more than 9000 incident lung cancer cases occurred. We used Cox proportional hazards regression to estimate hazard ratios (HRs)and 95% confidence intervals for coffee intake and subsequent incidence of lung cancer. We also comprehensively adjusted for tobacco smoking and examined associations by detailed strata of tobacco use.
Results: Coffee drinkers were far more likely to smoke than non-drinkers. Although coffee drinking was associated with lung cancer in age- and sex- adjusted models (HR for ≥ 6 cups/day compared with none: 4.56, 4.08-5.10), this association was substantially attenuated after adjusting for smoking (HR: 1.27, 1.14-1.42). Similar findings were observed for each different histological type of lung cancer, and for participants drinking predominantly caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee. Little evidence for an association was observed in our stratified analyses, either within never smokers or in most categories of tobacco use.
Conclusions: Coffee drinking was positively associated with lung cancer in our study, although the association was substantially attenuated after adjustment for tobacco smoking. As our adjustment for lifetime tobacco use was imperfect, it is likely that the remaining association is due to residual confounding by smoking, although other explanations are possible.
Keywords: Coffee; caffeine; lung cancer; smoking; tobacco.
Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association 2015. This work is written by US Government employees and is in the public domain in the US.