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Cancer Res. 2000 Jun 1;60(11):2906-11.

p53 mutations and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in a multicenter study on lung cancer.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Toxicology, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland.


Biomarker data may provide a way to strengthen the link between environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure and lung cancer shown in epidemiological studies. We conducted a multicenter case-control study to investigate the association between ETS exposure and lung cancer in never-smokers using p53 mutations as a biomarker of tobacco-related carcinogenesis. Paraffin-embedded tissue or fresh tissue samples from 91 never-smokers and 66 smokers with histologically confirmed lung cancer and interview data about smoking habits and ETS exposure were analyzed for mutations in the p53 gene. Statistical analysis was performed using multivariate logistic regression. Among the lifelong nonsmokers, the overall mutation prevalence was 10% (nine cases). Among 48 never-smokers ever exposed to spousal ETS, 13% (six cases) showed mutations. Smokers exhibited 17 (26%) mutations. A 3-fold [odds ratio, 2.9; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.2-7.2] increased risk of p53 mutation was observed for smokers as compared with all never-smokers combined (i.e., irrespective of ETS exposure). The increase was 4.4-fold (95% CI, 1.2-16.2) when compared with never-smokers without ETS exposure. Among never-smokers, the risk of mutation was doubled (odds ratio, 2.0; 95% CI, 0.5-8.7) for exposure to spousal ETS only, based on 6 exposed cases with mutation and 42 exposed cases without mutation. The risk was 1.5 (95% CI, 0.2-8.8) for those ever exposed to spousal or workplace ETS as compared with those never exposed to spousal or workplace ETS. For smokers, the most common mutation type was G:C to T:A transversion (31%), whereas G:C to A:T transitions were predominant among never smokers (57%). In conclusion, our study indicates a significant 3-4-fold increased risk of p53 mutation in smoking lung cancer cases, and it suggests that mechanisms of lung carcinogenesis in ETS-exposed never-smokers include mutations in the p53 gene, similar to that seen in smokers. However, the mutation patterns observed also suggest a difference between smokers and never-smokers. Clearly, additional investigations of the role of p53 mutation as a biomarker for tobacco-related carcinogenesis, including that related to ETS, are indicated.

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