Lung cancer, smoking patterns, and mutagen sensitivity in Mexican-Americans.J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr 1995; (18):29-33JN
Mexican-Americans have lower age-adjusted lung cancer incidence rates than non-Hispanic whites and African-Americans. Since 87% of lung cancers are attributed to tobacco exposure, this difference could be explained partly by lower prevalence of cigarette smoking. However, only a fraction of exposed individuals will develop smoking-related cancer, and genetically determined differences in modulation of environmental exposures could also explain some of this ethnic risk differential in lung cancer incidence in the United States. However, little research on genetic susceptibility has been focused on Hispanic populations in the United States.
We are conducting a case-control study of lung cancer in a high-risk group (African-Americans) and a low-risk group (Mexican-Americans) to evaluate ethnic differences in mutagen sensitivity by an in vitro assay that quantifies mutagen-induced chromosome breaks in short-term lymphocyte cultures.
In the 174 Mexican-Americans (67 lung cancer case patients and 107 control subjects) accrued to date, all measures of cigarette smoking (intensity, duration, nicotine and tar contents, depth of inhalation, and type of cigarette) were significant predictors of lung cancer risk. There were significantly higher risks associated with mutagen sensitivity (defined as > or = 1 break/cell) for both former smokers (odds ratio [OR] = 4.5; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.9-21.9) and current smokers (OR = 2.6; 95% CI = 0.6-11.1). Mutagen sensitivity also appeared to be implicated in risk in patients who were less than 55 years old at diagnosis (OR = 15.0; 95% CI = 1.0-228.9) and in those with lower cigarette exposure (OR = 11.0; compared with an OR of 1.7 for the heaviest smokers). The overall OR for mutagen sensitivity adjusted for age, sex, and pack-years of smoking was 2.9 (95% CI = 0.8-9.9). Neither current smoking status nor years of exposure shifted the sensitivity profile of case patients and control subjects.
Although this study showed higher percentages of nonsmokers among Mexican-Americans than our previously reported data for African-Americans, the Mexican-American case patients were heavier smokers than the African-American case patients. The prevalence of mutagen sensitivity for Mexican-Americans was 64.1% in case patients and 26.2% in control subjects. In African-Americans, mutagen sensitivity was previously reported to be 55.3% in case patients and 24.6% in control subjects. These preliminary data do not support our a priori hypothesis that a lower prevalence of mutagen sensitivity in Mexican-Americans would account for the lower incidence of lung cancer. Mutagen sensitivity, however, is only one of an array of potential susceptibility markers that we are evaluating in this unique population.