Association of CYP2A6 activity with lung cancer incidence in smokers: The Multiethnic Cohort Study

Sungshim L. Park, Sharon E. Murphy, Lynne R. Wilkens, Daniel O. Stram, Stephen S. Hecht, Loïc Le Marchand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


While smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer, only 11-24% of smokers develop the malignancy over their lifetime. The primary addictive agent in tobacco smoke is nicotine and variation in nicotine metabolism may influence the smoking levels of an individual. Therefore, inter-individual variation in lung cancer risk among smokers may be due in part to differences in the activity of enzymes involved in nicotine metabolism. In most smokers, cytochrome P450 2A6 (CYP2A6)-catalyzed C-oxidation accounts for >75% of nicotine metabolism, and the activity of this enzyme has been shown to correlate with the amount of nicotine and carcinogens drawn from cigarettes. We prospectively evaluated the association of urinary biomarkers of nicotine uptake (total nicotine equivalents [TNE]) and CYP2A6 activity (ratio of urinary total trans-30-hydroxycotinine to cotinine) with lung cancer risk among 2,309 Multiethnic Cohort Study participants who were current smokers at time of urine collection; 92 cases were diagnosed during a mean follow-up of 9.5 years. We found that higher CYP2A6 activity and TNE was associated with increased lung cancer risk after adjusting for age, sex, race/ethnicity, body mass index, smoking duration, and urinary creatinine (p's = 0.002). The association for CYP2A6 activity remained even after adjusting for self-reported cigarettes per day (CPD) (Hazard Ratio [HR] per unit increase in log-CYP2A6 activity = 1.52; p = 0.005) and after adjusting for TNE (HR = 1.46; p = 0.01). In contrast, the association between TNE and lung cancer risk was of borderline statistical significance when adjusted for CPD (HR = 1.53; p = 0.06) and not statistically significant when further adjusted for CYP2A6 activity (HR = 1.30; p = 0.22). These findings suggest that CYP2A6 activity provides information on lung cancer risk that is not captured by smoking history or a (short-term) biomarker of dose. CYP2A6 activity should be further studied as a risk biomarker for smoking-related lung cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0178435
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Park et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Dive into the research topics of 'Association of CYP2A6 activity with lung cancer incidence in smokers: The Multiethnic Cohort Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this