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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Dec;17(12):3366-71. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-08-0320.

Levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in mainstream smoke from different tobacco varieties.

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Emergency Response and Air Toxicants Branch, Division of Laboratory Science, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway Northeast, Mailstop F-47, Atlanta, GA 30341-3724, USA.


It has been estimated that one in every five cancer deaths worldwide are related to tobacco use. According to the IARC, 10 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and 8 tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNA), as well as at least 45 other compounds or substances found in tobacco smoke, are potential human carcinogens. The levels of these carcinogens in contents of tobacco and smoke emissions vary between different tobacco products. We evaluated mainstream smoke emissions from cigarettes made with different types of tobacco to examine the relation between their deliveries of TSNAs and PAHs and any possible influence from tobacco nitrate content. To investigate the contribution of tobacco content to mainstream cigarette smoke deliveries without confounders such as filter design, filter ventilation, and paper porosity, we used custom-made, research-grade, unfiltered cigarettes that contained bright, burley, oriental, reconstituted, or mixtures of these tobaccos. Our findings confirm results from other researchers that tobacco type can influence the mainstream smoke delivery of nicotine, TSNAs, and PAHs. However, we found that the effect varies among individual compounds. In addition, we observed a statistically significant relationship between nitrate content and mainstream smoke 4-(N-nitrosomethylamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK); nitrate level also influenced the mainstream smoke deliveries of the summed total of the 10 PAHs identified by IARC as potential human carcinogens. The influence of nitrate on mainstream smoke NNK and PAH levels were of different magnitude and direction. Our results tend to indicate an inverse relation exists between NNK and PAH deliveries when considering different tobacco blends.

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