Background: Quantifying the occurrence of lung cancer due to passive smoking is a necessary step when forming public health policy. In this study, we estimated the proportion of lung cancer cases attributable to passive smoking among never smokers in China.
Methods: Six databases were searched up to July 2019 for original observational studies reporting relative risks (RRs) or odds ratios (ORs) for the occurrence of lung cancer associated with passive smoking in Chinese never smokers. The population attributable fraction (PAF) was then calculated using the combined proportion of lung cancer cases exposed to passive smoking and the pooled ORs from meta-analysis. Data are reported with their 95% confidence intervals.
Results: We identified 31 case-control studies of never smokers and no cohort studies. These comprised 9,614 lung cancer cases and 13,093 controls. The overall percentages of lung cancers attributable to passive smoking among never smokers were 15.5% (9.0-21.4%) for 9 population-based studies and 22.7% (16.6-28.3%) for 22 hospital-based studies. The PAFs for women were 17.9% (11.4-24.0%) for the population-based studies and 20.9% (14.7-26.7%) for the hospital-based studies. The PAF for men was only calculable for hospital-based studies, which was 29.0% (95% CI: 8.0-45.2%). Among women, the percentage of lung cancer cases attributable to household exposure (19.5%) was much higher than that due to workplace exposure (7.2%).
Conclusions: We conclude that approximately 16% of lung cancer cases among never smokers in China are potentially attributable to passive smoking. This is slightly higher among women (around 18%), with most cases occurring due to household exposure.