Serum Folate Levels and Lung Cancer Risk: A Meta- Epidemiological Study of Population-based Case-Control Studies

Document Type: Research Articles


Department of Preventive Medicine, Jeju National University College of Medicine, Jeju, Republic of Korea.


Objective: While it has been claimed that lung cancer occurs due to epigenetic mechanisms, four systematic reviews were reported to investigate the association between serum folate levels and lung cancer risk. Considering some methodological problems founded in the systematic review, a meta-epidemiological study was conducted. Methods: The selection criteria of this study were defined that a case-control study was conducted to determine the risk of lung cancer occurrence according to the concentration of serum folate and its results showed odds ratio and its 95% confidence interval. Additional paper was explored from cited lists of 4 papers selected by previous systematic reviews. Random effect model was applied if I-squared value was over 50%. Results: For 5 case-control studies selected, the summary odds ratios (and their 95% confidence intervals) were 0.82 (0.74-0.90) in men, 0.70 (0.62-0.79) in former smokers, and 0.86 (0.75-1.00) in non-smokers. Conclusion: Higher foliate levels can decrease lung cancer risk in men and former smokers. Especially, the protective effect was highest in former smokers compared in non-smokers and current smokers. Based on these facts, folate fortification programs to reduce lung cancer risk would be focused on former smokers in men. And some epidemiological studies are needed to provide a hypothesis to explain the sex differences in the association between folate and lung cancer risk.


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