Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 487–494 | Cite as

Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in childhood and incidence of cancer in adulthood in never smokers in the European prospective investigation into cancer and nutrition

  • Shu-Chun Chuang
  • Valentina Gallo
  • Dominique Michaud
  • Kim Overvad
  • Anne Tjønneland
  • Francoise Clavel-Chapelon
  • Isabelle Romieu
  • Kurt Straif
  • Domenico Palli
  • Valeria Pala
  • Rosario Tumino
  • Carlotta Sacerdote
  • Salvatore Panico
  • Petra H. Peeters
  • Eiliv Lund
  • Inger Torhild Gram
  • Jonas Manjer
  • Signe Borgquist
  • Elio Riboli
  • Paolo Vineis
Original paper


The association between childhood environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure and adult cancer risk is controversial; we examined this relationship in never smokers within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort. Over an average of 10 years, 8,372 cases of cancer were diagnosed in 112,430 never smokers in EPIC. Childhood ETS was self-reported by participants at baseline, along with other lifestyle factors. Hazard ratios (HR) for ETS exposure in childhood and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated by Cox proportional hazards models stratified by age, sex, and study center and adjusted for education, alcohol drinking, body mass index, physical activity, non-alcoholic energy intake, fruit and vegetable intake, and adulthood ETS exposure. Models were further adjusted for reproductive factors for female cancers, for meat intake for digestive system cancers, and for diabetes status for pancreatic cancer. No association was observed between childhood ETS exposure and overall cancer risks (HR = 0.97, 95% CI = 0.92–1.02), and for selected sites. The only exception was pancreatic cancer, as previously reported by Vrieling et al., among those who had been exposed daily in childhood (overall HR = 2.09, 95% CI = 1.14–3.84). In conclusion, childhood ETS exposure might not be a major risk factor for common cancers in adulthood.


Childhood ETS exposure Adulthood cancers 



The EPIC cohort is supported by the Europe Against Cancer Program of the European Commission (SANCO). The individual centers also received funding from: Denmark: Danish Cancer Society; France: Ligue centre le Cancer, Institut Gustave Roussy, Mutuelle Générale de l’Education Nationale, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM); Italy: Italian Association for Research on Cancer and the National Research Council; The Netherlands: Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Dutch Prevention Funds, LK Research Funds, Dutch ZON (Zorg Onderzoek Nederland), and World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF); Norway: Norwegian Cancer Society; Sweden: Swedish Cancer Society, Swedish Scientific Council, and Regional Government of Skane.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shu-Chun Chuang
    • 1
  • Valentina Gallo
    • 1
  • Dominique Michaud
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kim Overvad
    • 3
  • Anne Tjønneland
    • 4
  • Francoise Clavel-Chapelon
    • 5
    • 6
  • Isabelle Romieu
    • 7
  • Kurt Straif
    • 7
  • Domenico Palli
    • 8
  • Valeria Pala
    • 9
  • Rosario Tumino
    • 10
  • Carlotta Sacerdote
    • 11
  • Salvatore Panico
    • 12
  • Petra H. Peeters
    • 13
  • Eiliv Lund
    • 14
  • Inger Torhild Gram
    • 14
  • Jonas Manjer
    • 15
  • Signe Borgquist
    • 16
  • Elio Riboli
    • 1
  • Paolo Vineis
    • 1
    • 11
    • 17
  1. 1.School of Public HealthImperial College London, St Mary’s CampusLondonUK
  2. 2.Brown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  3. 3.Department of Epidemiology, School of Public HealthAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark
  4. 4.Institute of Cancer Epidemiology, Danish Cancer SocietyCopenhagenDenmark
  5. 5.INSERM, U1018, Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population HealthVillejuifFrance
  6. 6.Paris South University, Gustave Roussy InstituteVillejuifFrance
  7. 7.International Agency for Research on CancerLyonFrance
  8. 8.Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology UnitCancer Research and Prevention Institute, ISPOFlorenceItaly
  9. 9.Department of Preventive and Predictive Medicine, Nutritional Epidemiology UnitFondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale TumoriMilanItaly
  10. 10.Ragusa Cancer Registry, Azienda Ospedaliera “Civile MP Arezzo”RagusaItaly
  11. 11.HuGEF Foundation and CPO-PiemonteTurinItaly
  12. 12.Department of Clinical and Experimental MedicineFederico II UniversityNaplesItaly
  13. 13.Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary CareUniversity Medical CenterUtrechtThe Netherlands
  14. 14.Institute of Community Medicine, University of TromsøTromsøNorway
  15. 15.Department of Surgery, Skåne University Hospital MalmöLund UniversityMalmöSweden
  16. 16.Department of Oncology, Skåne University Hospital LundLund UniversityLundSweden
  17. 17.MRC-HPA Centre for Environment and Health, School of Public HealthImperial College LondonLondonUK

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