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Some Ethnic Differences In Lung Cancer Rates Linked To Nicotine Metabolism

Date:
January 16, 2002
Source:
University Of California - San Francisco
Summary:
Chinese-American smokers draw in less nicotine per cigarette and also metabolize nicotine more slowly than Latinos and other Caucasians, helping explain why they tend to smoke less than most Caucasians and have relatively low rates of lung cancer, UCSF scientists have found.
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Chinese-American smokers draw in less nicotine per cigarette and also metabolize nicotine more slowly than Latinos and other Caucasians, helping explain why they tend to smoke less than most Caucasians and have relatively low rates of lung cancer, UCSF scientists have found.

The finding supports growing evidence that ethnicity can significantly affect people's response to drugs and should be taken into account in developing and prescribing drugs, according to the researchers.

The study is published in the January 16 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The UCSF study found that Chinese-American smokers metabolize nicotine at about two-thirds the rate of both Latinos and non-Latino Caucasians, presumably keeping more nicotine in their system per cigarette and satisfying their need for nicotine with fewer cigarettes. In addition, the fact that they take in less nicotine per cigarette than Latinos, other Caucasians -- and African Americans -- means they also take in less of the other compounds in cigarette smoke, including carcinogens.

While the slower nicotine metabolism and less intensive smoking behavior found in the study may explain some of the known ethnic differences in lung cancer rates, other factors must also be at play, said Neal Benowitz, MD, UCSF professor of medicine, psychiatry and biopharmaceutical sciences and lead author on the JNCI paper. Benowitz is also leader of the Tobacco Control Program of UCSF's Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Cancer researchers estimate that 90 percent of lung cancers are caused by cigarette smoking. Caucasians in the U.S. are about five times more likely to develop lung cancer from smoking than are Chinese. Other possible reasons for lower lung cancer rates in Chinese include the relatively late age at which they start to smoke and their relatively higher rate of lung cancers not related to smoking, Benowitz said.

The study also found that Latinos and non-Latino Caucasians metabolize nicotine at about the same rate, supporting the view that lower Latino lung cancer rates relative to non-Latino Caucasians are due primarily to the fact that Latinos tend to smoke fewer cigarettes, the researchers report.

In 1998, Benowitz and colleagues determined that African Americans take in more nicotine and other smoke products from cigarettes than Caucasians, primarily because they draw more deeply on cigarettes when they smoke. The researchers think this explains why African Americans have a greater incidence of lung cancer than Caucasians despite the fact that the two smoke about the same amount.

The researchers found a second metabolic difference that may contribute to the lower incidence of lung cancer among Chinese smokers. A liver enzyme known as CYP2A6 is primarily responsible for metabolizing nicotine, the researchers note, and is also involved in activating several carcinogens in tobacco smoke. The study found lower CYP2A6 enzyme activity among Chinese-American smokers.

The lower lung ca


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Materials provided by University Of California - San Francisco. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California - San Francisco. "Some Ethnic Differences In Lung Cancer Rates Linked To Nicotine Metabolism." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 January 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020116072314.htm>.
University Of California - San Francisco. (2002, January 16). Some Ethnic Differences In Lung Cancer Rates Linked To Nicotine Metabolism. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 13, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020116072314.htm
University Of California - San Francisco. "Some Ethnic Differences In Lung Cancer Rates Linked To Nicotine Metabolism." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020116072314.htm (accessed July 13, 2024).

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