IMIM: Biomarker discovered that measures the risk of cancer in non-smokers

IMIM: Biomarker discovered that measures the risk of cancer in non-smokers

News from IMIM

Researchers from the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) have, for the first time, demonstrated that measurements of a tobacco-specific nitrosamine in the hair, NNK, correlate with the real risk of exposure to the carcinogens in tobacco smoke in passive smokers. This substance is a much better biomarker than any of the markers measured up to now for assessing this risk and it has been found in higher concentrations in the hair than any other tobacco-specific carcinogen. The study was conducted in collaboration with researchers at the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) and has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The smoke passive smokers are exposed to differs from the smoke of smokers. Passive smokers are exposed to a lot of chemicals resulting from the combustion of the cigarette, but in addition, certain substances have gone through various activation reactions, making them carcinogenic. This is what is known as second- and third-hand smoke. "Being able to directly measure these carcinogenic nitrosamines, especially the NNK (4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone), means we have very useful information for assessing the real risk of exposure to those substances that can cause DNA damage and, therefore, originate cancer", explains Dr. José Antonio Pascual, a researcher in the Neurosciences programme at the IMIM.

According to Dr. Pascual, "this is the first study to demonstrate that NNK is present in hair samples from non-smokers, even those who do not feel they are exposed to tobacco smoke. NNK is present in higher concentrations than other tobacco-specific nitrosamines."

More information:
IMIM Website

Reference work:
Pérez-Ortuño R, Martínez-Sánchez JM, Fu M, Fernández E, Pascual JA. Evaluation of tobacco specific nitrosamines exposure by quantification of 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) in human hair of non-smokers. Sci Rep 2016; 6: 25043