The association between the consumption of onions and leeks (vegetables belonging to the Allium genus), garlic supplements, and the risk of lung carcinoma was investigated in a large-scale prospective cohort study on diet and cancer in the Netherlands. The Netherlands Cohort Study was started in 1986 among 120,852 men and women, ages 55–69 years, by collecting information on usual diet and important life-style characteristics. After 3.3 years of follow-up, 550 incident lung carcinoma cases were observed. Information on Allium vegetable consumption was available for 484 lung carcinoma cases and 3123 members of a randomly sampled subcohort. In stratified analysis, a lower lung carcinoma risk was observed in the highest onion intake category [rate ratio (RR) = 0.65; 95% confidence interval, 0.45–0.95] compared to the lowest consumption category. After including other, dietary and nondietary, determinants of lung carcinoma in the multivariable models and using pack years for past and current smoking, instead of using smoking status categorized as never, ex-, and current smoking, the rate ratio in the highest intake category increased to 0.80 and was no longer significantly different from unity (95% confidence interval, 0.52–1.24). Leek consumption was not associated with risk for lung carcinoma (RR = 1.08; 95% confidence interval 0.80–1.45 in the highest intake category, compared to the lowest). No statistically significant trends in the rate ratios associated with increasing consumption of these vegetables were detected for lung carcinoma or the four histological subtypes. A higher lung carcinoma risk was observed for those subjects who used exclusively garlic supplements (RR = 1.78; 95% confidence interval, 1.08–2.92), compared to those not taking dietary supplements. A lower lung carcinoma risk was seen for those using garlic supplements together with any other supplement (RR = 0.93; 95% confidence interval 0.46–1.86) compared to those using any other supplement. In conclusion, we found no evidence of a relation between the consumption of onions or leeks and the risk of lung carcinoma or any of the histological subtypes. Garlic supplement use seems not associated with a lower risk of lung carcinoma.
Supported by the Dutch Cancer Society.