Lymphocyte DNA damage in cigarette factory workers measured by the Comet assay

Mutat Res. 1999 Jul 21;444(1):1-6. doi: 10.1016/s1383-5718(99)00097-2.


To investigate whether there were separate and combined effects of occupational exposure to tobacco dust and smoking on lymphocyte DNA damage, 148 workers from a cigarette manufacturing factory (107 occupationally exposed to tobacco dust from the production department and 41 unexposed controls who were managerial workers) were included in the study. The Tail Moment (TM) of Comet assay was used to measure DNA damage. The two groups had similar mean age, mean duration of work and smoking prevalence. The exposed workers had a larger TM than that of the controls (mean+/-S.D.: 43.43+/-13. 77 vs. 38.89+/-8.98, p<0.05). Smokers had significantly larger TM than non-smokers (47.25+/-14.02 vs. 38.90+/-10.75, p<0.001). Analysis of variance after adjustment for age and gender showed that occupational exposure and smoking had a significant and independent effect on Tail Moment (p=0.025 and p=0.002, respectively) and there was a significant positive two way interaction between the two factors (p=0.019). Age and gender had no significant effect on TM. The present study suggests that smoking and tobacco dust exposure can induce lymphocyte DNA damage and there is a synergistic effect of tobacco dust exposure and smoking on DNA damage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • China
  • DNA / analysis
  • DNA Damage*
  • Dust / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Plants, Toxic*
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / genetics
  • Tobacco*


  • Dust
  • DNA