Association between carcinogen-DNA adducts in white blood cells and lung cancer risk in the physicians health study

D Tang, D H Phillips, M Stampfer, L A Mooney, Y Hsu, S Cho, W Y Tsai, J Ma, K J Cole, M N Shé, F P Perera

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180 Citations (Scopus)


In this matched case-control study nested within the prospective Physicians' Health Study, we evaluated whether DNA damage in blood samples collected at enrollment significantly predicted risk, consistent with our hypothesis that cases have greater biological susceptibility to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other aromatic tobacco carcinogens. The subjects were 89 cases of primary lung cancer and 173 controls, all males, matched on smoking, age, and duration of follow-up. Aromatic-DNA adducts were measured in WBCs by the nuclease P1-enhanced (32)P-postlabeling method that primarily detects smoking-related adducts. Among current smokers, but not former or nonsmokers, there was a significant increase in mean adduct levels of cases compared with controls (11.04 versus 5.63; P = 0.03). "Healthy" current smokers who had elevated levels of aromatic DNA adducts in WBCs were approximately three times more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer 1-13 years later than current smokers with lower adduct concentrations (odds ratio, 2.98; 95% confidence interval, 1.05-8.42; P = 0.04). We were not able to discern case-control differences in former smokers and nonsmokers. The findings are of interest because they suggest that individuals who become cases have greater biological susceptibility to tobacco carcinogens, a biological difference, which manifests most clearly while exposure is ongoing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6708-12
Number of pages5
JournalCancer Research
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2001


  • Carcinogens
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell
  • Case-Control Studies
  • DNA Adducts
  • DNA Damage
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes
  • Logistic Models
  • Lung Neoplasms
  • Middle Aged
  • Polycyclic Hydrocarbons, Aromatic
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


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