Tobacco-specific nitrosamine 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol (NNAL) in smokers in the United States: NHANES 2007-2008

Biomarkers. 2011 Mar;16(2):112-9. doi: 10.3109/1354750X.2010.533288. Epub 2010 Nov 29.


The tobacco-specific carcinogen 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol (NNAL), a metabolite of the tobacco-specific nitrosamine (TSNA) 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK), has been measured in urine samples from all participants aged 6 years and older from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007-2008. Participants with a serum cotinine concentration of ≥ 10 ng/mL were identified as tobacco users, primarily cigarette smokers. Regression models were developed to calculate geometric mean NNAL concentrations adjusted for serum cotinine, urinary creatinine, cigarettes per day, and Federal Trade Commission tar values of the cigarettes smoked. Significant differences were found by gender (p=0.003) and race/ethnicity (p=0.022 for non-Hispanic white versus non-Hispanic black smokers), but not by menthol type of the cigarettes. Females and non-Hispanic white smokers had the highest adjusted means for urinary NNAL (353 and 336 pg/mL, respectively). The results from this study demonstrated significant relationships between NNAL concentrations and serum cotinine (p<0.001) and urine creatinine (p<0.001). The joint effect of linear and quadratic terms for number of cigarettes smoked per day was also statistically significant (p=0.001). In addition to addressing current NNK exposure levels, these results will form a baseline for future estimates of tobacco users' exposure to this carcinogen.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Continental Ancestry Group
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers
  • Carcinogens / metabolism
  • Cotinine / blood*
  • Creatinine / urine*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / metabolism
  • Nitrosamines / metabolism*
  • Nitrosamines / urine*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Pyridines / urine*
  • Smoking / ethnology
  • Smoking / metabolism
  • Smoking / urine*
  • Tars / metabolism
  • Tobacco / metabolism
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Carcinogens
  • Nitrosamines
  • Pyridines
  • Tars
  • Nicotine
  • 4-(N-methyl-N-nitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone
  • Creatinine
  • 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butan-1-ol
  • Cotinine