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Involuntary smoking was a major public health problem for women in China. Previous studies mainly focused on secondhand smoke (SHS), which referred to direct exposure to smoke from burning cigarettes. Little evidence existed about the relationship between thirdhand smoke (THS), the residual tobacco smoke remaining in the environment after tobacco had been smoked, and cervical cancer. The China Kadoorie Biobank (CKB) study recruited 0.3 million female participants from 10 areas across China during 2004-2008. After an 11.2-year median follow-up, we documented 1094 cervical cancer cases. Multivariable Cox regression yielded adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the associations of SHS and THS with cervical cancer incidence, respectively and jointly. Overall, 60.3% reported weekly SHS exposure, and 83.2% had been exposed to THS. Daily SHS exposure and THS exposure at the enrollment were associated with elevated risks of cervical cancer incidence, with adjusted HRs (95% CI) of 1.22 (1.06,1.42) and 1.24 (1.03,1.49), respectively. The longer the exposure duration, the higher the risks (P for trend = 0.006, 0.035, respectively). Compared with those who were neither exposed to SHS nor THS, those exposed to both SHS and THS had the highest risk, with adjusted HRs (95% CI) of 1.29 (1.05,1.58). Area of residence, breastfeeding duration and heating fuel types are potential effect modifiers. Among Chinese females, both SHS and THS were associated with higher risks of cervical cancer incidence, and a dose-response relationship was found between the exposure duration and cervical cancer risk. Our findings reinforce the need for proactive strategies for tobacco control, to protect women health.

Original publication




Journal article


Environ Res

Publication Date





Cervical cancer, Involuntary smoking, Prospective cohort study, Secondhand smoke, Thirdhand smoke, China, Female, Humans, Prospective Studies, Smokers, Nicotiana, Tobacco Smoke Pollution, Uterine Cervical Neoplasms