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Carcinogen derived biomarkers: applications in studies of human exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke
  1. S S Hecht
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor Stephen S Hecht
 University of Minnesota Cancer Center, Mayo Mail Code 806, 420 Delaware Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA;


Objective: To review the literature on carcinogen derived biomarkers of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS). These biomarkers are specifically related to known carcinogens in tobacco smoke and include urinary metabolites, DNA adducts, and blood protein adducts.

Method: Published reviews and the current literature were searched for relevant articles.

Results: The most consistently elevated biomarker in people exposed to SHS was 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol (NNAL) and its glucuronides (NNAL-Gluc), urinary metabolites of the tobacco specific lung carcinogen 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK). The tobacco specificity of this biomarker as well as its clear relation to an established lung carcinogen are particularly appropriate for its application in studies of SHS exposure.

Conclusion: The results of the available carcinogen derived biomarker studies provide biochemical data which support the conclusion, based on epidemiologic investigations, that SHS causes lung cancer in non-smokers.

  • secondhand smoke
  • carcinogens
  • biomarkers
  • 8-OH-dG, 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine
  • BaP, benzo[a]pyrene
  • GC-MS, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry
  • HPB, 4-hydroxy-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone
  • IARC, International Agency for Research on Cancer
  • NNAL, 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol
  • NNK, 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone
  • NNN, N′-nitrosonornicotine
  • PAH, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • SHS, secondhand smoke
  • SS, sidestream smoke
  • ttMA, trans,trans-muconic acid

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