Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Does living near heavy industry cause lung cancer in women? A case-control study using life grid interviews
  1. R Edwards1,
  2. T Pless-Mulloli2,
  3. D Howel3,
  4. T Chadwick3,
  5. R Bhopal4,
  6. R Harrison5,
  7. H Gribbin6
  1. 1Department of Public Health, Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
  2. 2Department of Environmental Epidemiology, Institute of Health and Society, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle, UK
  3. 3School of Population and Health Sciences, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle, UK
  4. 4Public Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  5. 5Department of Respiratory Medicine, University Hospital of North Tees, Stockton, UK
  6. 6Department of Respiratory Medicine, James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr R Edwards
    Department of Public Health, Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Otago, P O Box 7343, Wellington, New Zealand; Richard.Edwards{at}


Background: The incidence of lung cancer among women is high in the highly industrialised area of Teesside in north-east England. Previous research has implicated industrial pollution as a possible cause. A study was undertaken to investigate whether prolonged residence close to heavy industry is associated with lung cancer among women in Teesside.

Methods: Two hundred and four women aged <80 years with incident primary lung cancer and 339 age matched community controls were recruited to a population based case-control study. Life course residential, occupational, and active and passive smoking histories were obtained using an interviewer administered questionnaire.

Results: The age adjusted odds ratio (OR) for lung cancer among people living >25 years v 0 years near (within 0–5 km) heavy industry in Teesside was 2.13 (95% CI 1.34 to 3.38). After adjustment for confounding factors the OR was 1.83 (95% CI 0.82 to 4.08) for >25 years or 1.10 (95% CI 0.96 to 1.26) for an additional 10 years living near industry. ORs were similar after residence near heavy industry outside Teesside was also included, and when latency was allowed for by disregarding residential exposures within the last 20 years. Adjustment for active smoking had the greatest effect on the OR.

Conclusions: This population based study using life grid interviews for life course exposure assessment has addressed many deficiencies in the design of previous studies. The findings support those in most of the international literature of a modestly raised risk of lung cancer with prolonged residence close to heavy industry, although the confidence intervals were wide. The effect of air pollution on the incidence of lung cancer merits continued study.

  • lung cancer
  • air pollution
  • heavy industry

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Funding: The Fight Against Cancer Trust was the main funder with additional contributions from the South Tees Lung Fund and Tees Health Authority. None of the funders had any influence over the design, conduct, analysis, or writing up and presentation of the findings of the study.

  • Competing interests: none.

Linked Articles

  • Airwaves
    Wisia Wedzicha