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Am J Epidemiol. 2002 Oct 1;156(7):606-15.

Differential association of body mass index and fat distribution with three major histologic types of lung cancer: evidence from a cohort of older women.

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  • 1Health Sciences Research, Mayo Foundation, Rochester, MN55905, USA.


The Iowa Women's Health Study, a prospective cohort study of 41,836 Iowa women aged 55-69 years at baseline in 1986, reported that lung cancer was inversely associated with body mass index (BMI) and waist/hip ratio. Risk by histologic subtype was not examined. Through 1998, 596 cases of lung cancer were identified. After adjustment for established risk factors, women in the upper BMI quintile were at decreased risk of all lung cancer subtypes, especially squamous cell carcinoma; the highest versus the lowest quintile of BMI was associated with a relative risk of 0.22 (p-trend = 0.005). Conversely, the highest quintile of waist circumference was positively associated with small cell and squamous cell lung cancer (relative risks = 3.31 and 3.05, respectively). No association of waist circumference with risk of adenocarcinoma of the lung was found. There were too few cases of squamous cell and small cell carcinoma in never smokers to eliminate the possibility that these results are due to the residual effects of smoking. Alternatively, these results may reflect increased activation of chemicals from cigarette smoke among women with an increased waist circumference. Results suggest that waist circumference may be differentially associated with histologic subtypes of lung cancer.

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