The fraction of lung cancer attributable to smoking in the Norwegian Women and Cancer (NOWAC) Study

Lung Cancer

Br J Cancer. 2020 Oct 27. doi: 10.1038/s41416-020-01131-w. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: We examined the association between active and passive smoking and lung cancer risk and the population attributable fraction (PAF) of lung cancer due to active smoking, in the Norwegian Women and Cancer Study, a nationally representative prospective cohort study.

METHODS: We followed 142,508 women, aged 31-70 years, who completed a baseline questionnaire between 1991 and 2007, through linkages to national registries through December 2015. We used Cox proportional hazards models, to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). We calculated PAF to indicate what proportion of lung cancer cases could have been prevented in the absence of smoking.

RESULTS: During the more than 2.3 million person-years of observation, we ascertained 1507 lung cancer cases. Compared with never smokers, current (HR 13.88, 95% CI 10.18-18.91) smokers had significantly increased risk of lung cancer. Female never smokers exposed to passive smoking had a 1.3-fold (HR 1.34, 95% CI 0.89-2.01) non- significantly increased risk of lung cancer, compared with never smokers. The PAF of lung cancer was 85.3% (95% CI 80.0-89.2).

CONCLUSION: More than 8 in 10 lung cancer cases could have been avoided in Norway, if the women did not smoke.