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Cancer Res. 2006 Jul 1;66(13):6877-83.

Risk of microsatellite-unstable colorectal cancer is associated jointly with smoking and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug use.

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  • 1Public Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 1100 Fairview Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.


Smoking has been consistently associated with an increased risk of colorectal adenomas and hyperplastic polyps as well as colorectal cancer. Conversely, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) have been associated with reduced colorectal cancer risk. We conducted a population-based case-control study to evaluate the joint association between smoking and regular NSAID use with colorectal cancer risk; we also examined these associations stratified by tumor microsatellite instability (MSI). We analyzed 1,792 incident colorectal cancer cases and 1,501 population controls in the Seattle, Washington area from 1998-2002. MSI, defined as MSI high (MSI-H) or MSI-low/microsatellite stable (MSI-L/MSS), was assessed in tumors of 1,202 cases. Compared with nonsmokers, colorectal cancer risk was modestly increased among individuals who had ever smoked. Current NSAID use was associated with a 30% lower risk compared with nonusers. There was a statistically significant interaction between smoking duration and use of NSAIDs (P(interaction) = 0.05): relative to current NSAID users who never smoked, individuals who had both smoked for >40 years and had never used NSAIDs were at the highest risk for colorectal cancer (adjusted odds ratio, 2.8; 95% confidence intervals, 1.8-4.1). Compared with nonsmokers, there was a stronger association within MSI-H tumors with current smoking than there was within MSI-L/MSS tumors. Smokers of long duration were at elevated risk of MSI-H tumors even with NSAID use. The risk of MSI-L/MSS tumors was not elevated among long-duration smokers with long exposure to NSAIDs but was elevated among long-duration smokers who had never used NSAIDs. There seems to be a synergistic inverse association (implying protection) against colorectal cancer overall as a result of NSAID use and nonsmoking, but risk of MSI-H colorectal cancer remains elevated among smokers even when they have a history of NSAID use.

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