Elevated levels of volatile organic carcinogen and toxicant biomarkers in Chinese women who regularly cook at home

Stephen S Hecht, Adeline Seow, Mingyao Wang, Renwei Wang, Lei Meng, Woon Puay Koh, Steven G Carmella, Menglan Chen, Shaomei Han, Mimi C. Yu, Jian Min Yuan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background: Epidemiologic studies associate lung cancer in nonsmoking Chinese women with Chinese-style wok cooking. Our goal was to quantify carcinogen and toxicant biomarkers in Chinese women who reported regularly doing home cooking compared with women randomly selected from the Singapore Chinese Health Study as controls. Methods: Biomarkers were quantified by high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, high-performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection, and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Results: Compared with controls, women who engaged in regular home cooking had significantly higher levels of mercapturic acids of acrolein {geometric mean, 1,959 pmol/mg creatinine [95% confidence interval (95% CI), 1,554-2,467] versus 1,370 (95% CI, 1,077-1,742); P = 0.038}, crotonaldehyde [geometric mean, 232 pmol/mg creatinine (95% CI, 193-277) versus 142 (95% CI, 118-171); P = 0.0004], and benzene [geometric mean, 0.58 pmol/mg creatinine (95% CI, 0.44-0.78) versus 0.18 (95% CI, 0.14-0.24); P < 0.0001]. No significant differences were found in levels of mercapturic acids of 1,3-butadiene, metabolites of pyrene and phenanthrene, or acetaldehyde-leukocyte DNA adduct levels between the groups. Levels of the ethylene oxide mercapturic acid were significantly higher in the controls. Conclusions: The higher levels of the mercapturic acid of benzene, a multiorgan carcinogen, in the women who cooked are particularly notable. Overall, the results showing increased exposure to the volatile toxicants and carcinogens acrolein, crotonaldehyde, and benzene in Chinese women who regularly cook provide a plausible lead for further investigating the role of volatile compounds generated during high-temperature cooking with oils as causes of lung cancer. Impact: A new direction for research on lung cancer etiology is suggested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11851192
Number of pages1
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010


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