Tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption as risk factors for thymoma – A European case-control study

Mikael Eriksson, Linda Kaerlev, Preben Johansen, Noemia Afonso, Wolfgang Ahrens, Altamiro Costa-Pereira, Pascal Guénel, Karl Heinz Jöckel, Agustin Llopis Gonzalez, Franco Merletti, Maria Morales Suárez-Varela, Brigitte Trétarre, Gun Wingren, Lorenzo Richiardi, Svend Sabroe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)


Purpose: Hardly anything is known about the aetiology of thymoma. This paper presents data regarding tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption in relation to thymoma from the first case-control study performed on this rare tumour. Methods: A European multi-centre case-control study including incident cases aged 35–69 years with thymoma between 1995 and 1997, was conducted in seven countries. A set of controls, used in seven parallel case-control studies by the same research group was used, including population-based controls from five countries and hospital controls with colon cancer from two countries. Altogether 103 cases, accepted by a reference pathologist, 712 colon cancer controls, and 2071 population controls were interviewed. Results: Tobacco smoking was moderately related with thymoma (OR 1.4, 95% CI 0.9–2.2), and a tendency to dose-response was shown (p = 0.04), with an increased risk for heavy smokers defined as ≥41 pack-years (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.1–3.9). A high consumption of spirits defined as ≥25 g of alcohol per day was associated with an increased risk of thymoma (OR 2.4, 95% CI 1.1–5.4), whereas no association was found with beer or wine. Conclusions: Tobacco smoking and a high intake of spirits were indicated as risk factors for thymoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-138
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Epidemiology
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cancer and Oncology
  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • Alcohol
  • Case-control study
  • Risk factors
  • Thymoma
  • Thymus cancer
  • Tobacco smoking


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