DNA adducts and cancer risk in prospective studies: a pooled analysis and a meta-analysis

Bulky DNA adducts are biomarkers of exposure to aromatic compounds and of the ability of the individual to metabolically activate carcinogens and to repair DNA damage. Their ability to predict cancer onset is uncertain. We have performed a pooled analysis of three prospective studies on cancer risk in which bulky DNA adducts have been measured in blood samples collected from healthy subjects (N = 1947; average follow-up 51–137 months). In addition, we have performed a meta-analysis by identifying all articles on the same subject published up to the end of 2006, including case–control studies. In the pooled analysis, a weakly statistically significant increase in the risk of lung cancer was apparent (14% per unit standard deviation change in adduct levels, 95% confidence interval 1–28%; using the weighted mean difference method, 0.15 SD, units higher adducts in cases than in controls). The association was evident only in current smokers and was absent in former smokers. Also the meta-analysis, which included both lung and bladder cancers, showed a statistically significant association in current smokers, whereas the results in never smokers were equivocal; in former smokers, no association was detected. The results of our pooled and meta-analyses suggest that bulky DNA adducts are associated with lung cancer arising in current smokers after a follow-up of several years.

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