Female nonsmokers exposed to passive smoking >30 years have increased risk of lung cancer

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According to a new study published in the journal Annals of Oncology, researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California, have found that women who are exposed to smoking in the home for greater than 30 years have an increased risk for developing lung cancer despite having never smoked compared with women who were not exposed to passive smoking.

For the study, researchers identified 76,304 women between the ages 50 and 79 years. Of those, 6.2% were current smokers, 41.68% were former smokers, 47.36% were nonsmokers but exposed to passive smoking, and 4.77% were never smokers and had no exposure to passive smoking. The women were followed for an average of 10.5 years.

During that time, 901 women developed lung cancer. Results showed that current smokers were 13.44 times more likely to develop lung cancer compared with never-smokers, and former smokers were 4.2 times more likely than never-smokers.

There was no statistically significant difference of risk between non-smokers with passive smoking exposure and those without passive smoking exposure. When researchers conducted subgroup analyses, there was a borderline significant risk of lung cancer among nonsmokers exposed to passive smoking for more than 30 years versus women with no home exposure (HR = 1.61).

For many, cigarette smoking is a habit formed in younger years.
Women who are exposed to smoking in the home for greater than 30 years have an increased risk.
Women who have never smoked but are exposed to smoking in the home for more than 30 years are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer compared with women without this passive smoking exposure, suggest researchers.

The analysis also found that women who smoke are 13 times more likely to develop lung cancer than those who have never smoked, but quitting significantly reduces this risk. The study, published in Annals of Oncology, used data from the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study cohort to investigate the relationship between active and passive smoking and lung cancer incidence in women.

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