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Chinese women have one of the highest lung cancer rates in the world, but not because they smoke a lot of cigarettes. Studies of lung cancer in China have implicated indoor air pollutants from cooking with the traditional wok.

To assess that theory, researchers from the National Cancer Institute, the Shanghai Cancer Institute and the Research Triangle Institute tested heated Chinese and U.S. cooking oils for possible cancer-causing agents.They conclude, in a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, that high-temperature wok cooking - at 464 to 536 degrees Fahrenheit - with unrefined Chinese rapeseed oil may increase lung cancer risk. That is a common oil and cooking temperature used by women cooks in Shanghai.

U.S. cooking oils are more refined and do not appear to pose the same risk, although more study may be warranted, according to the researchers. In any event, the researchers suggested cooking at lower temperatures and increasing ventilation during cooking to avoid breathing possible cancer-causing vapors.

- Dolores Kong