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Cancer Res. 2009 Nov 1;69(21):8236-40. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-1084. Epub 2009 Oct 20.

Presence of the carcinogen N'-nitrosonornicotine in the urine of some users of oral nicotine replacement therapy products.

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Masonic Cancer Center and Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA.


N'-nitrosonornicotine (NNN) is a strong carcinogen present in unburned tobacco and cigarette smoke. We here analyze data obtained in two studies, in which a biomarker of exposure to NNN--the sum of NNN and its pyridine-N-glucuronide, called total NNN--was quantified in the urine of people who had stopped smoking and used various nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products. In 13 of 34 nicotine gum or lozenge users from both studies, total NNN at one or more time points after biochemically confirmed smoking cessation was comparable with, or considerably higher than, the baseline levels. For most of the subjects who used the nicotine patch as a smoking cessation aid, urinary total NNN at all post-quit time points was <37% of their mean baseline levels. These results indicate that endogenous formation of significant amounts of NNN may occur sporadically in some users of oral NRT. Given the carcinogenicity of NNN and the frequent use of nicotine gum as a smoking cessation aid, further studies are needed so that preventive measures can be developed.

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