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Passive Smoking Not Strongly Linked to Lung Cancer

Update Date: Dec 20, 2013 03:33 PM EST

Smoking, which is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the world, has been tied to increasing lung cancer risk. Several studies have also found a link between exposure to secondhand smoke and increased lung cancer risk. Despite evidence of this relationship, a new Stanford study is reporting that the link between passive smoking and lung cancer is unclear.

For this study, the research team analyzed data on 76,304 females who were a part of the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study. This study had asked the participants about their exposure to secondhand smoke during their childhood. The participants were also asked about their exposure to passive smoking in their adult work place and at home.

During the 10.5 years follow-up, the researchers found that 901 of the participants developed lung cancer. The team reported that women who were smokers had a 13 times increased risk of developing lung cancer. For ex-smokers, their risk of lung cancer was four times higher. When the researchers compared the risk of lung cancer between women who were exposed to passive smoking and women who were not, the team did not find any statistical differences. They concluded that being exposed to passive smoking did not increase one's risk of lung cancer. However, the team did find one exception.

"The only category of exposure that showed a trend toward increased risk was living in the same house with a smoker for 30 years or more," the researchers claimed.

"The fact that passive smoking may not be strongly associated with lung cancer points to a need to find other risk factors for the disease [in nonsmokers]," added Ange Wang, a medical student at Stanford University, reported by Daily Mail.

Wang presented the study, which was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute at the meeting of American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.

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