Fish consumption is inversely associated with male lung cancer mortality in countries with high levels of cigarette smoking or animal fat consumption

Jianjun Zhang, Elisabeth H.M. Temme, Hugo Kesteloot

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Background. A striking difference in fish consumption and lung cancer mortality (LCM) exists among populations worldwide. This study investigated the relation between fish consumption and LCM at the population level. Methods. Sex-specific LCM data, mostly around 1993 and fish consumption data for 10 periods 1961-1994 in 36 countries were obtained from WHO and FAO, respectively. Results. A significant inverse correlation exists between log fish consumption and LCM rate in 9 out of the 10 time periods (r=-0.34 to r=-0.46, P=0.044 to P=0.005). After adjusting for smoking and other confounders, log fish consumption (% of total energy [% E]) was inversely and significantly associated with LCM rate (per 100 000 per year) in all 10 time periods (β=-26.3 to β=-36.7; P=0.0039 to P<0.0001). The stratified analysis showed that this inverse relation was significant only in countries with above median level of smoking (>2437 cigarettes/adult/year) or animal fat minus fish fat consumption (22.4% E). An increase in fish consumption by 1% E was calculated to reduce mean male LCM rate of the populations examined in the age class of 45-74 years by 8.4%. In women, no significant relation between fish consumption and LCM could be established. Conclusions. Fish consumption is associated with a reduced risk from LCM, but this possible protective effect is clear-cut only in men and in countries with high levels of cigarette smoking or animal fat consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-621
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000



  • Animal fat
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Fish consumption
  • Lung cancer mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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