The devastating link between tobacco products and human cancers results from a powerful alliance of two factors - nicotine and carcinogens. Without either one of these, tobacco would be just another commodity, instead of being the single greatest cause of death due to preventable cancer. Nicotine is addictive and toxic, but it is not carcinogenic. This addiction, however, causes people to use tobacco products continually, and these products contain many carcinogens. What are the mechanisms by which this deadly combination leads to 30% of cancer-related deaths in developed countries, and how can carcinogen biomarkers help to reveal these mechanisms?
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Research in the Hecht laboratory is supported by grants from the US National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society and the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute. I thank S. G. Carmella, who has contributed substantially to our biomarker research, and my other colleagues and collaborators who have been involved in our research. I appreciate the editorial assistance of R. Carlson.