Inconsistent associations between smoking status and prostate cancer (PC) could be due to exposure assessment error. Reconstructing smoking behaviors over the life course could reduce exposure assessment error.
As part of a case-control study, we identified 402 incident and histologically confirmed PC cases that were matched by age (±5 years) to 805 population controls. Through direct interview, we obtained information about: age at smoking onset, intensity and frequency of cigarette smoking at different life stages, and smoking cessation age. Smoking status at interview and average smoking index over the lifetime (packs/year) were estimated. Life course smoking patterns were obtained applying the k-means+ method for longitudinal data to the smoking index (pack/year) for each life stage.
Two life-course smoking patterns were identified among ever smokers: "pattern A" characterized by males who reported low and constant smoking intensity (87.8%), and "pattern B" (12.2%) males with an initial period of low intensity, followed by an increase during the second period. Compared to never smokers, pattern B was associated with higher poorly differentiated PC, (OR 2.30; 95% CI 1.21-4.38). No association was observed with average smoking index.
Life course smoking patterns seem to capture the smoking variability during life course and reduce the likelihood of reverse causation. Using this assessment strategy our findings support the potential role of tobacco smoking in PC, particularly poorly differentiated PC. Prospective studies with comprehensive smoking history during the lifetime are needed to confirm these findings.