Lung Cancer Rising in Nonsmoking European Men
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Lung cancer may be on the rise among nonsmoking Swedish men, results of a recent study suggest.
In a study of nearly 144,000 male construction workers who said they had never smoked, researchers found that lung cancer rates, while low, increased between the late 1970s and early 1990s.
From 1976 to 1980, the number of new lung cancer cases among these men stood at just 1.5 per 100,000 people. From 1991 to 1995, that number increased to 5.4 new cases per 100,000, report researchers led by Dr. Paolo Boffetta of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France.
All of the men had reported never smoking during at least one doctor visit between 1971 and 1992. It is possible that some of these men took up smoking after their last doctor visit--perhaps explaining the rise in lung cancer cases, Boffetta's team speculates.
``On the other hand, we cannot exclude a variation in risk factors (for) lung cancer other than smoking,'' the researchers reported in a recent issue of the International Journal of Cancer.
They suggest that ``exposures which affect the population equally,'' such as air pollution or on-the-job exposure to carcinogens, could be also help explain their findings. However, Boffetta and colleagues point out, they did take the workers' asbestos exposure into account when analyzing the findings.
Smoking is the ``overwhelming cause of lung cancer in most populations,'' Boffetta and his colleagues note. Because it is relatively rare for someone who has never smoked to develop disease, they add, studying other causes can be difficult.
``Our study provides the, so far, most precise estimate of the incidence of lung cancer in a nonsmoking male population from Europe,'' the authors conclude.
They note that their results mirror those that have been found in the US.