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Lung Cancer Prevention (PDQ®): Prevention - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Overview

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Factors of uncertain association with risk

Dietary factors

Based on equivocal evidence, the observed inverse associations between lung cancer and dietary factors, such as fruit and vegetable consumption, are difficult to disentangle from cigarette smoking.

Magnitude of Effect: Inverse association, moderate magnitude, but difficult to determine if true cause-effect association or due to confounding by cigarette smoking.

Study Design: Numerous cohort and case-control studies, and meta-analyses.
Internal Validity: Fair.
Consistency: Fair.
External Validity: Good.

Physical activity

Based on equivocal evidence, the observed inverse associations between lung cancer and higher levels of physical activity are difficult to disentangle from cigarette smoking.

Magnitude of Effect: Inverse association, moderate magnitude, but difficult to determine if true cause-effect association or due to confounding by cigarette smoking.

Study Design: Numerous cohort and case-control studies, and meta-analyses.
Internal Validity: Fair.
Consistency: Fair.
External Validity: Good.

Interventions Associated With Decreased Risk of Lung Cancer

Smoking avoidance

Based on solid evidence, cigarette smoking causes lung cancer and therefore, smoking avoidance would result in decreased mortality from primary lung cancers.

Magnitude of Effect: Decreased risk, small magnitude.

Study Design: Cohort and case-control studies.
Internal Validity: Good.
Consistency: Good.
External Validity: Good.

Smoking cessation

Based on solid evidence, long-term sustained smoking cessation results in decreased incidence of lung cancer and of second primary lung tumors.

Magnitude of Effect: Decreased risk, moderate magnitude.

Study Design: Cohort and case-control studies.
Internal Validity: Good.
Consistency: Good.
External Validity: Good.

Eliminating secondhand smoke

Based on solid evidence, exposure to secondhand smoke causes lung cancer and therefore, preventing exposure to secondhand smoke would result in decreased incidence and mortality from primary lung cancers.

Magnitude of Effect: Decreased risk, small magnitude.

Study Design: Cohort and case-control studies.
Internal Validity: Good.
Consistency: Good.
External Validity: Good.

Reducing or eliminating occupational exposure to lung carcinogens

Based on solid evidence, occupational exposures such as asbestos, arsenic, nickel, and chromium are causally associated with lung cancer. Reducing or eliminating workplace exposures to known lung carcinogens would be expected to result in a corresponding decrease in the risk of lung cancer.

Magnitude of Effect: Decreased risk, with a larger effect, the greater the reduction in exposure.

Study Design: Cohort and case-control studies.
Internal Validity: Good.
Consistency: Good.
External Validity: Good.

Reducing or eliminating exposure to radon

Based on solid evidence, indoor exposure to radon increases lung cancer incidence and mortality, particularly among cigarette smokers. In homes with high radon concentrations, taking steps to prevent radon from entering homes by sealing the basement would be expected to result in a corresponding decrease in the risk of lung cancer.

Magnitude of Effect: Increased risk that follows a dose-response gradient, with small increases in risk for levels experienced in most at-risk homes to greater increases in risk for high-level exposures.

Study Design: Cohort and case-control studies.
Internal Validity: Fair.
Consistency: Good.
External Validity: Fair.
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WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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