Fat Intake and Lung Cancer Risk


Key Points

  • High intake of total fat and unsaturated fat was associated with an increased risk of lung cancer.
  • High intake of saturated fat was associated with an increased risk among current smokers and an increased risk for squamous cell and small cell cancers.

According to a study reported by Yang et al in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, high dietary intake of total fat and saturated fat was associated with an increased risk of lung cancer, with the association with saturated fat being particularly evident among current smokers.

Study Details

The study involved pooled analysis of 10 prospective cohort studies from the United States, Europe, and Asia including 1,445,850 participants. The first 2 years of follow-up were excluded from analysis to avoid the potential influence of disease presence or dietary changes prior to cohort enrollment.

Associations of total and specific types of dietary fat with lung cancer risk were calculated. Risk models were stratified by baseline age group and enrollment year and adjusted for age, sex, smoking status, smoking pack-years, family history of lung cancer, race/ethnicity, educational attainment, alcohol consumption, physical activity level, obesity status, intake of total energy and vegetables, and menopausal status.

Fat Intake and Risk

After a mean follow-up of 9.4 years, 18,822 incident cases of lung cancer were identified. Highest vs lowest quintile of intake of total fat (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.07, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.00–1.15) and saturated fat (HR = 1.14, 95% CI = 1.07–1.22) was associated with an increased risk of lung cancer (P < .001 for trend for both). The association of high saturated fat intake with risk was higher among current smokers vs former/never smokers (HR = 1.23, 95% CI = 1.13–1.35; P < .001 for trend; P = .004 for interaction) and for squamous cell (HR = 1.61, 95% CI = 1.38–1.88) and small cell carcinoma (HR = 1.40, 95% CI = 1.17–1.67; P < .001 for trend for both; P < .001 for heterogeneity) vs other histologic types.

Highest vs lowest quintile intake of polyunsaturated fat was associated with a reduced risk of lung cancer (HR = 0.92, 95% CI = 0.87–0.98; P = .02 for trend). A 5% energy substitution of polyunsaturated fat for saturated fat was associated with reductions in risk for small cell and squamous cell carcinoma of 16% to 17%. No associations with lung cancer risk were identified for monounsaturated fat intake.

The investigators concluded: “Findings from this large, international cohort consortium suggest that modifying dietary fat intake (ie, replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat) may reduce lung cancer risk, particularly among smokers and for squamous cell and small cell carcinoma.”

The study was funded by a grant from the National Cancer Institute.

Danxia Yu, PhD, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, is the corresponding author of the Journal of Clinical Oncology article.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.