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BACKGROUND: The role of genetic background underlying the disparity of relative risk of smoking and lung cancer between European populations and East Asians remains unclear. METHODS: To assess the role of ethnic differences in genetic factors associated with smoking-related risk of lung cancer, we first constructed ethnic-specific polygenic risk scores (PRSs) to quantify individual genetic risk of lung cancer in Chinese and European populations. Then, we compared genetic risk and smoking as well as their interactions on lung cancer between two cohorts, including the China Kadoorie Biobank (CKB) and the UK Biobank (UKB). We also evaluated the absolute risk reduction over a 5-year period. RESULTS: Differences in compositions and association effects were observed between the Chinese-specific PRSs and European-specific PRSs, especially for smoking-related loci. The PRSs were consistently associated with lung cancer risk, but stronger associations were observed in smokers of the UKB [hazard ratio (HR) 1.26 vs 1.15, P  =  0.028]. A significant interaction between genetic risk and smoking on lung cancer was observed in the UKB (RERI, 11.39 (95% CI, 7.01-17.94)], but not in the CKB. Obvious higher absolute risk was observed in nonsmokers of the CKB, and a greater absolute risk reduction was found in the UKB (10.95 vs 7.12 per 1000 person-years, P <0.001) by comparing heavy smokers with nonsmokers, especially for those at high genetic risk. CONCLUSIONS: Ethnic differences in genetic factors and the high incidence of lung cancer in nonsmokers of East Asian ethnicity were involved in the disparity of smoking-related risk of lung cancer.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Epidemiol

Publication Date





1815 - 1825


Tobacco smoking, additive interaction, ethnic difference, genetic susceptibility, lung cancer, Humans, Lung Neoplasms, Prospective Studies, Smoking, Risk Factors, Tobacco Smoking, Genetic Risk Score