Progress and challenges in selected areas of tobacco carcinogenesis

Chem Res Toxicol. 2008 Jan;21(1):160-71. doi: 10.1021/tx7002068. Epub 2007 Dec 4.


Tobacco use continues to be a major cause of cancer in the developed world, and despite significant progress in this country in tobacco control, which is driving a decrease in cancer mortality, there are still over 1 billion smokers in the world. This perspective discusses some selected issues in tobacco carcinogenesis focusing on progress during the 20 years of publication of Chemical Research in Toxicology. The topics covered include metabolism and DNA modification by tobacco-specific nitrosamines, tobacco carcinogen biomarkers, an unidentified DNA ethylating agent in cigarette smoke, mutations in the K-RAS and p53 gene in tobacco-induced lung cancer and their possible relationship to specific carcinogens, secondhand smoke and lung cancer, emerging issues in smokeless tobacco use, and a conceptual model for understanding tobacco carcinogenesis. It is hoped that a better understanding of mechanisms of tobacco-induced cancer will lead to new and useful approaches for the prevention of lung cancer and other cancers caused by tobacco use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alkylation
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Carcinogens / chemistry
  • Carcinogens / toxicity*
  • DNA Adducts / drug effects
  • Genes, ras / genetics
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Mutation / physiology
  • Nitrosamines / chemistry
  • Nitrosamines / toxicity
  • Smoke / adverse effects
  • Smoke / analysis
  • Tobacco / chemistry
  • Tobacco / toxicity*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects
  • Tobacco, Smokeless / adverse effects


  • Biomarkers
  • Carcinogens
  • DNA Adducts
  • Nitrosamines
  • Smoke
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution