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Cigarette Smoking And Lung Cancer: Modeling Total Exposure And Intensity

J. Lubin, N. Caporaso
Published 2006 · Medicine

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Investigators typically analyze cigarette smoking using smoking duration and intensity (number of cigarettes smoked per day) as risk factors. However, odds ratios (OR) for categories of intensity either adjusted for, or jointly with, duration of smoking may be distorted by differences in total pack-years of exposure to cigarette smoke. To study effects of intensity, we apply a linear excess OR model to compare total exposure delivered at low intensity for a long period of time with an equal total exposure delivered at high intensity for a short period of time to data from a large case-control study of lung cancer. The excess OR per pack-year increases with intensity for subjects who smoke ≤20 cigarettes per day and decreases with intensity for subjects who smoke >20 cigarettes per day. The intensity patterns are homogeneous by histologic type of lung cancer, suggesting that observed differences in risks by histologic type are related to total smoking exposure or smoking duration and not smoking intensity. At lower smoking intensities, there is an “exposure enhancement” effect such that for equal total exposure, the excess OR per pack-year increases with intensity. At higher smoking intensities, there is a “reduced potency” or “wasted exposure” effect such that for equal total exposure, the excess OR per pack-year decreases with intensity (i.e., smoking at a lower intensity for longer duration is more deleterious than smoking at a higher intensity for shorter duration). (Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2006;15(3):517–23)
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