Radon, secondhand smoke, glutathione-S-transferase M1 and lung cancer among women

Int J Cancer. 2006 Sep 15;119(6):1462-7. doi: 10.1002/ijc.22002.


Tobacco smoke and ionizing radiation induce oxidative stress by transmitting or generating reactive oxygen species (ROS). We hypothesized that glutathione-S-transferase M1 (GSTM1) null homozygotes would have decreased ability to neutralize ROS that might increase their susceptibility to lung cancer. A case-only design was used with lung cancer cases pooled from 3 previously completed case-control studies using archival tissue samples from 270 lung cancer cases to genotype GSTM1. Radon concentrations were measured with long-term alpha-track radon detectors. Secondhand smoke (SHS) was measured with questionnaires and interviews. Unconditional logistic regression was used to calculate the interaction odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI). Radon concentrations >121 Bq m(-3) were associated with a >3-fold interaction OR (OR = 3.41; 95% CI = 1.10, 10.61) for GSTM1 null homozygotes compared to GSTM1 carriers; the linear trend was significant (p trend = 0.03). The SHS and GSTM1 interaction OR was also elevated (OR = 2.28; 95% CI = 1.15-4.51) among never-smokers. This may be the first study to provide evidence of a GSTM1 and radon interaction in risk of lung cancer. Additionally, these findings support the hypothesis that radon and SHS promote neoplasia through shared elements of a common pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Glutathione Transferase / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Radon / adverse effects*
  • Research Design
  • Risk Factors
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • glutathione S-transferase M1
  • Radon