An analysis of nearly two dozen studies confirms the association between passive smoke in the workplace and an increased risk of lung cancer, according to a report in the American Journal of Public Health.
The research, led by University of Illinois at Chicago epidemiologist Leslie Stayner, is posted online and will appear in the March print issue of the journal.
Stayner and colleagues conducted a statistical analysis combining data from 22 studies evaluating workplace smoking exposure and lung cancer risk. They also analyzed workers' level and duration of exposure to passive smoke and their risk of lung cancer.
The researchers found a 24 percent increase in lung cancer risk among people exposed to passive smoke in the workplace. Workers who were highly exposed had a 100 percent increased (or doubled) risk of lung cancer, and workers with a long history, or duration, of exposure to passive smoke had a 50 percent increased risk.
"We believe this provides the strongest evidence to date of the relationship between workplace environmental tobacco smoke and lung cancer," said Stayner, professor and director of epidemiology and biostatistics at the UIC School of Public Health, and lead author of the study.
The research, Stayner said, has important policy implications for cities and states that have not yet legislated smoking bans in bars and restaurants where there are high levels of environmental smoke.