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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2001 May;10(5):515-22.

Biomonitoring on carcinogenic metals and oxidative DNA damage in a cross-sectional study.

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Bremen Institute for Prevention Research and Social Medicine and Centre for Public Health, University of Bremen, D-28359 Bremen, Germany.


Oxidative DNA damage is mediated by reactive oxygen species and is supposed to play an important role in various diseases including cancer. The endogenous amount of reactive oxygen species may be enhanced by the exposure to genotoxic metals. A cross-sectional study was conducted from 1993 to 1994 in an urban population in Germany to investigate the association between metal exposure and oxidative DNA damage. The cross-sectional sample of 824 participants was recruited from the registry of residents in Bremen, comprising about two-third males and one-third females with an average age of 61.1 years. A standardized questionnaire was used to obtain the occupational and smoking history. The incorporated dose of exposure to metals was assessed by biological monitoring. Chromium, cadmium, and nickel were measured in 593 urine samples. Lead was determined in blood samples of 227 participants. As a biomarker for oxidative DNA damage, 7,8-dihydro-8-oxoguanine has been analyzed in lymphocytes of 201 participants. Oxidative lesions were identified by single strand breaks induced by the bacterial formamidopyrimidine-DNA glycosylase (Fpg) in combination with the alkaline unwinding approach. The concentrations of metals indicate a low body load (median values: 1.0 microg nickel/l urine, 0.4 microg cadmium/l urine, and 46 microg lead/l blood; 83% of chromium measures were below the technical detection limit of 0.3 microg/l). The median level of Fpg-sensitive DNA lesions was 0.23 lesions/10(6) bp. A positive association between nickel and the rate of oxidative DNA lesions (Fpg-sensitive sites) was observed (odds ratio, 2.15; tertiles 1 versus 3, P < 0.05), which provides further evidence for the genotoxic effect of nickel in the general population.

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