Are female smokers at higher risk for lung cancer than male smokers? A case-control analysis by histologic type

Am J Epidemiol. 1993 Sep 1;138(5):281-93. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a116857.


A case-control study of male-female differences in cigarette smoking and lung cancer was conducted during 1981-1985 in Toronto, St. Catharine's, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. In total, 442 female and 403 male histologically verified cancer cases were individually matched by age and area of residence to each other and to 410 female and 362 male randomly selected population controls. Subjects were interviewed concerning their exposures to various life-style factors, and in particular, they received detailed questioning regarding their lifelong histories of usage of tobacco products. It was found that, for both sexes, a greatly elevated risk of developing lung cancer was associated with cigarette consumption, increasing with pack-years of cigarettes smoked and declining with duration of time since quitting smoking. Furthermore, the association was significantly (p = 0.010) and appreciably stronger for females than for males. At a history of 40 pack-years relative to lifelong nonsmoking, the odds ratio for women was 27.9 (95% confidence interval (CI) 14.9-52.0) and that for men was 9.60 (95% CI 5.64-16.3). Higher odds ratios for females were also seen within each of the major histologic groupings. Thus, the higher elevated risk of lung cancer currently observed in other studies for female ever smokers compared with male ever smokers, while possibly attributable in part to greater smoking cessation among males, may be due to higher susceptibility among females.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / epidemiology
  • Adenocarcinoma / etiology
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma / etiology
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / etiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / etiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Time Factors