Chromosome damage in workers in cigarette manufacturing industry

J Appl Toxicol. 2008 Apr;28(3):399-404. doi: 10.1002/jat.1327.


To investigate whether occupational exposure to tobacco dust is genotoxic, a group of employees in a tobacco factory was tested for structural chromosome aberrations (CA), cytokinesis-block micronucleus assay (CBMN) and sister chromatid exchanges (SCE) that are well established as indicators of early biological effects. The study group consisted of 40 tobacco workers and an equal number of matched controls. The results obtained in the exposed group showed a significant increase in chromosome aberrations (R=0.26), micronucleus frequency (R=0.56) and in sister chromatid exchanges (R=0.75), which was additionally influenced by smoking. A significant increase in high frequency cells (HFC) in the exposed group was also observed. Like the SCE frequency, the HFC frequency increased significantly in smokers of the control and exposed smokers. The study indicates that occupational exposure to tobacco dust induces genome damage. A higher risk was observed in women. The micronucleus frequency and sister chromatid exchange tests seem to be more reliable indicators of genome damage than chromosome aberrations in monitoring chronically exposed subjects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dust
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Industry*
  • Male
  • Micronuclei, Chromosome-Defective / chemically induced*
  • Micronucleus Tests
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Occupational Diseases / genetics
  • Occupational Diseases / pathology
  • Occupational Exposure* / analysis
  • Sister Chromatid Exchange*
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Tobacco / adverse effects*


  • Dust