Although animal experiments showed that some of these compounds can induce tumors in multiple organs including the lung, epidemiological studies of their relationship with lung cancer in smokers have not been reported. Therefore, in this study, we quantified urinary mercapturic acid metabolites of 1,3-butadiene, ethylene oxide, benzene, acrolein and crotonaldehyde in addition to urinary biomarkers for PAH, NNK and nicotine in 343 lung cancer cases and 392 matched controls among a cohort of 18,244 Chinese men in Shanghai, China, followed from 1986 to 2006. Compared with the lowest quartiles, highest quartiles of all measured mercapturic acids were associated with statistically significantly ~2-fold increased risk for lung cancer (all P's for trend <0.01) after adjustment for smoking intensity and duration.
The positive associations between biomarkers of ethylene oxide, benzene or acrolein and lung cancer risk remained statistically significant after adjustment for biomarkers of PAH and NNK, whereas urinary total cotinine completely explained the mercapturic acid metabolites and lung cancer associations (all P's for trend ≥ 0.39). We conclude that mercapturic acid metabolites of 1,3-butadiene, ethylene oxide, benzene, acrolein and crotonaldehyde may not be independent risk predictors of lung cancer among Shanghai smokers, in contrast to biomarkers of PAH, NNK and nicotine exposure.