Nature Reviews Cancer 3, 733-744 (October 2003) | doi:10.1038/nrc1190

There is a Correction (1 January 2004) associated with this article.

Tobacco carcinogens, their biomarkers and tobacco-induced cancer

Stephen S. Hecht1  About the author


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?

Author affiliations

  1. University of Minnesota Cancer Center, Mayo Mail Code 806, 420 Delaware Street SE, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA.
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