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J Natl Cancer Inst. 2007 Nov 21;99(22):1729-35. Epub 2007 Nov 13.

Association between cigarette smoking and colorectal cancer in the Women's Health Initiative.

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  • 1Division of Population Sciences, Center for Population Health and Health Disparities, and School of Public Health, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA.


The evidence linking cigarette smoking to the risk of colorectal cancer is inconsistent. We investigated the associations between active and passive smoking and colorectal cancer among 146,877 Women's Health Initiative participants. Women reported detailed smoking histories at enrollment. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated for the association between smoking and overall and site-specific risk of colorectal cancer. Invasive colorectal cancer was diagnosed in 1242 women over an average of 7.8 years (range = 0.003-11.2 years) of follow-up. In adjusted analyses, statistically significant positive associations were observed between most measures of cigarette smoking and risk of invasive colorectal cancer. Site-specific analyses indicated that current smokers had a statistically significantly increased risk of rectal cancer (HR = 1.95, 95% CI = 1.10 to 3.47) but not colon cancer (HR = 1.03, 95% CI = 0.77 to 1.38), compared with never smokers. Passive smoke exposure was not associated with colorectal cancer in adjusted analyses. Thus, active exposure to cigarette smoking appears to be a risk factor for rectal cancer.

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