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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2000 Nov;9(11):1215-21.

Fumes from meat cooking and lung cancer risk in Chinese women.

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Department of Community, Occupational and Family Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore.


Chinese women are recognized to have a high incidence of lung cancer despite a low smoking prevalence. Several studies have implicated domestic exposure to cooking fumes as a possible risk factor, although the exact carcinogens have yet to be identified. Heterocyclic amines are known carcinogens, which have been identified in cooked meat, and also in fumes generated during frying or grilling of meats. We conducted a case-control study of 303 Chinese women with pathologically confirmed, primary carcinomas of the lung and 765 controls to examine the association between exposure to meat cooking and lung cancer risk. Data on demographic background, smoking status, and domestic cooking exposure, including stir-frying of meat, were obtained by in-person interview while in hospital. The response rates among eligible cases and controls were 95.0 and 96.9%, respectively. The proportion of smokers (current or ex-smokers) among cases and controls was 41.7 and 13.1%, respectively. Adenocarcinomas comprised 31.5% of cancers among smokers and 71.6% among nonsmokers. When cases were compared with controls, the odds ratio (OR) for lung cancer (all subtypes) among ex-smokers was 4.3 [95% confidence interval (CI) 2.7-6.8] and that among current smokers was 5.0 (95% CI, 3.4-7.3). Among smokers, women who reported that they stir-fried daily in the past had a significantly increased risk of lung cancer (adjusted OR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.0-3.8) and among these women, risk was enhanced for those who stir-fried meat daily (OR, 2.7; 95% CI, 1.3-5.5). Women who stir-fried daily but cooked meat less often than daily did not show an elevated risk (OR, 1.0. 95% CI, 0.5-2.4). Risk was further increased among women stir-frying meat daily who reported that their kitchen was filled with oily fumes during cooking (OR, 3.7; 95% CI, 1.8-7.5). These cooking practices on their own did not increase risk among nonsmokers in our study population. Our results suggest that inhalation of carcinogens, such as heterocyclic amines generated during frying of meat, may increase the risk of lung cancer among smokers. Further studies in different settings are warranted to examine this possibility, which may also help to explain the higher risk observed among women smokers compared with men.

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