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Br J Cancer. 1998 Jul;78(1):136-9.

Smoking and risk of colorectal cancer.

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  • 1National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland.


Tobacco smoking was studied in relation to colorectal cancer in 56 973 Finnish men and women initially free from cancer. Smoking status was determined by a health questionnaire. During a follow-up period of 28 years, from the baseline in 1966-72 to the end of 1994, 457 cases of colorectal cancer occurred. There was no significant association between baseline smoking status and colorectal cancer risk over the total follow-up period. The sex- and age-adjusted relative risk of colorectal cancer between smokers and non-smokers was 1.06 (95% confidence interval 0.84-1.33). For follow-up periods of 11-20 years, however, the relative risk was 1.57 (95% confidence interval 1.09-2.24). In a subgroup in which smoking habits were assessed twice, the relative risk of colorectal cancer among persistent smokers was 1.71 (95% confidence interval 1.09-2.68) compared with others. The results of the present prospective study are consistent with the possibility that smoking increases the risk of colorectal cancer after a relatively long induction period. To clarify the role of smoking in colorectal cancer development, further cohort studies are needed with long follow-up periods and allowing for control of dietary and other potential confounding factors.

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