Nitrosamines Play Important Role In Cancer Linked To Smoking

June 02, 1998

The following major review article will appear June 2 in the Web edition of Chemical Research in Toxicology, a peer-reviewed journal published by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

First comprehensive review in a decade provides new insights on mechanisms of cancer induction by nitrosamines in tobacco products

A series of chemical compounds--known as nitrosamines--found in unburned tobacco and tobacco smoke have been strongly linked to lung cancer formation, says Stephen S. Hecht, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota Cancer Center in Minneapolis. In the first comprehensive review in over a decade, Hecht summarizes all the peer-reviewed studies of the biochemistry, biology, and carcinogenicity of these tobacco- specific nitrosamines.

The tobacco specificity of these carcinogens is important, Hecht says, because they provide a link between nicotine addiction and cancer that can be attributed only to tobacco. This is in contrast to other smoke carcinogens such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons, which occur in the diet and the general environment. Other than nicotine chewing gum, Hecht says that there is no published evidence that these tobacco-specific nitrosamines are found in any other products except tobacco products. For example, the detection of a nitrosamine metabolite in the urine of non-smokers exposed to environmental tobacco smoke specifically implicates tobacco as the source of this carcinogenic exposure, according to Hecht. He maintains that this finding strengthens the argument that passive smoking causes lung cancer.

By developing the ways in which cancer is formed by cancer-specific nitrosamines in animal models, their fate in humans can be more fully determined, Hecht believes. This is the focus of his own research, to elucidate the factors which influence cancer development upon exposure to carcinogens.

Hecht also suggests that by understanding the way cancer is induced by tobacco-specific nitrosamines, more effective approaches toward prevention of tobacco-related cancers can be designed. Because lung cancer therapy is still largely unsuccessful, the use of chemical agents to inhibit the carcinogenicity of tobacco smoke--called chemoprevention--remains as a viable way to prevent cancer death in addicted smokers and ex-smokers, Hecht adds. Many agents have been tested in mice, and phase I clinical trials for the leading candidate, an isothiocyanate called PEITC, are being initiated.

# # # #

Researcher contact: Dr. Stephen S. Hecht,
612-624-7604 (phone); 612-626-5135 (fax); (email);

or Coleen Southwell,
Director of Communications, University of Minnesota Cancer Center
612-626- 1107;

For a copy of an earlier release on Dr. Hecht's research on nitrosamines and environmental tobacco smoke, or a copy of this 45-page review, call Sally Pecor at 202-872-4451.

American Chemical Society

Related Lung Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

State-level lung cancer screening rates not aligned with lung cancer burden in the US
A new study reports that state-level lung cancer screening rates were not aligned with lung cancer burden.

The lung microbiome may affect lung cancer pathogenesis and prognosis
Enrichment of the lungs with oral commensal microbes was associated with advanced stage disease, worse prognosis, and tumor progression in patients with lung cancer, according to results from a study published in Cancer Discovery, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

New analysis finds lung cancer screening reduces rates of lung cancer-specific death
Low-dose CT screening methods may prevent one death per 250 at-risk adults screened, according to a meta-analysis of eight randomized controlled clinical trials of lung cancer screening.

'Social smokers' face disproportionate risk of death from lung disease and lung cancer
'Social smokers' are more than twice as likely to die of lung disease and more than eight times as likely to die of lung cancer than non-smokers, according to research presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress.

Lung cancer therapy may improve outcomes of metastatic brain cancer
A medication commonly used to treat non-small cell lung cancer that has spread, or metastasized, may have benefits for patients with metastatic brain cancers, suggests a new review and analysis led by researchers at St.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Lung transplant patients face elevated lung cancer risk
In an American Journal of Transplantation study, lung cancer risk was increased after lung transplantation, especially in the native (non-transplanted) lung of single lung transplant recipients.

Proposed cancer treatment may boost lung cancer stem cells, study warns
Epigenetic therapies -- targeting enzymes that alter what genes are turned on or off in a cell -- are of growing interest in the cancer field as a way of making a cancer less aggressive or less malignant.

Are you at risk for lung cancer?
This question isn't only for people who've smoked a lot.

Read More: Lung Cancer News and Lung Cancer Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to