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1.  A U-shaped relationship between haematocrit and mortality in a large prospective cohort study 
Background Only a limited number of studies have investigated the correlation between haematocrit (HCT) and mortality in the general population, and few of those studies have had data on a wide range of low and high levels of HCT. We investigated the association between baseline HCT and mortality in a prospective cohort study of 49 983 adult subjects in Iran with a broad spectrum of HCT values.
Methods Data on socio-demographic and life-style factors, past medical history, and levels of HCT were collected at enrollment. During a mean follow-up of 5 years (follow-up success rate ∼99%), 2262 deaths were reported. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to estimate hazard ratios and corresponding 95% confidence intervals.
Results There was a U-shaped relationship between categories of HCT and mortality in both sexes: both low and high levels of HCT were associated with increased overall mortality and mortality from cardiovascular disease. The U-shaped relationship persisted after several sensitivity analyses were done, including analyses restricted to non-smokers and non-users of opium; analyses excluding deaths from accidents and other external causes as well as deaths of persons with self-reported ischemic heart disease at the baseline interview for the study; and analyses excluding the first 2 years of follow-up. Self-reported past medical history and lack of data about lipids and other cellular blood components were the major limitations of the study.
Conclusions Low and high levels of HCT are associated with increased mortality in the general population. The findings in the present study can be of particular importance for low- and middle-income countries in which a substantial proportion of the population lives with suboptimal levels of HCT.
PMCID: PMC3619954  PMID: 23569195
Anaemia; cancer; cardiovascular disease; erythrocytosis; haematocrit; mortality
2.  Hepatitis C and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Among 4784 Cases and 6269 Controls From the International Lymphoma Epidemiology Consortium 
Background & Aims
Increasing evidence points towards a role of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in causing malignant lymphomas. We pooled case-control study data to provide robust estimates of the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) subtypes after HCV infection.
The analysis included 7 member studies from the International Lymphoma Epidemiology Consortium (InterLymph) based in Europe, North America, and Australia. Adult cases of NHL (n = 4784) were diagnosed between 1988 and 2004 and controls (n = 6269) were matched by age, sex, and study center. All studies used third-generation enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays to test for antibodies against HCV in serum samples. Participants who were human immunodeficiency virus positive or were organ-transplant recipients were excluded.
HCV infection was detected in 172 NHL cases (3.60%) and in 169 (2.70%) controls (odds ratio [OR], 1.78; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.40–2.25). In subtype-specific analyses, HCV prevalence was associated with marginal zone lymphoma (OR, 2.47; 95% CI, 1.44–4.23), diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (OR, 2.24; 95% CI, 1.68–2.99), and lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma (OR, 2.57; 95% CI, 1.14–5.79). Notably, risk estimates were not increased for follicular lymphoma (OR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.65–1.60).
These results confirm the association between HCV infection and NHL and specific B-NHL subtypes (diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, marginal zone lymphoma, and lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma).
PMCID: PMC3962672  PMID: 18387498
3.  Multiplexed Surrogate Analysis of Glycotransferase Activity in Whole Biospecimens 
Analytical chemistry  2013;85(5):2927-2936.
Dysregulated glycotransferase enzymes in cancer cells produce aberrant glycans—some of which can help facilitate metastases. Within a cell, individual glycotransferases promiscuously help construct dozens of unique glycan structures, making it difficult to comprehensively track their activity in biospecimens—especially where they are absent or inactive. Here we describe an approach to deconstruct glycans in whole biospecimens then analytically pool together resulting monosaccharide-and-linkage-specific degradation products (“glycan nodes”) that directly represent the activities of specific glycotransferases. To implement this concept a reproducible, relative quantitation-based glycan methylation analysis methodology was developed that simultaneously captures information from N−, O−, and lipid linked glycans and is compatible with whole biofluids and homogenized tissues; in total over 30 different glycan nodes are detectable per GC-MS run. Numerous non-liver organ cancers are known to induce production of abnormally glycosylated serum proteins. Thus following analytical validation in blood plasma the technique was applied to a cohort of 59 lung cancer patient plasma samples and age/gender/smoking-status-matched non-neoplastic controls from the Lung Cancer in Central and Eastern Europe Study to gauge the clinical utility of the approach towards detection of lung cancer. Ten smoking-independent glycan node ratios were found that detect lung cancer with individual ROC c-statistics ranging from 0.76–0.88. Two glycan nodes provided novel evidence for altered ST6Gal-I and GnT-IV glycotransferase activities in lung cancer patients. In summary, a conceptually novel approach to the analysis of glycans in unfractionated human biospecimens has been developed that, upon clinical validation for specific applications, may provide diagnostic and/or predictive information in glycan-altering diseases.
PMCID: PMC3650733  PMID: 23368525
Glycans; glycomics; glycotransferase surrogates; whole biospecimens; lung cancer
4.  Determinants of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Including Hookah Smoking and Opium Use– A Cross-Sectional Analysis of 50,000 Individuals 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89256.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common cause of discomfort and morbidity worldwide. However, information on determinants of GERD from large-scale studies in low- to medium-income countries is limited. We investigated the factors associated with different measures of GERD symptoms, including frequency, patient-perceived severity, and onset time.
We performed a cross-sectional analysis of the baseline data from a population-based cohort study of ∼50,000 individuals in in Golestan Province, Iran. GERD symptoms in this study included regurgitation and/or heartburn.
Approximately 20% of participants reported at least weekly symptoms. Daily symptoms were less commonly reported by men, those of Turkmen ethnicity, and nass chewers. On the other hand, age, body mass index, alcohol drinking, cigarette smoking, opium use, lower socioeconomic status, and lower physical activity were associated with daily symptoms. Most of these factors showed similar associations with severe symptoms. Women with higher BMI and waist to hip ratio were more likely to report frequent and severe GERD symptoms. Hookah smoking (OR 1.34, 95% CI 1.02–1.75) and opium use (OR 1.70, 95% CI 1.55–1.87) were associated with severe symptoms, whereas nass chewing had an inverse association (OR 0.87, 95% CI 0.76–0.99). After exclusion of cigarette smokers, hookah smoking was still positively associated and nass chewing was inversely associated with GERD symptoms (all frequencies combined).
GERD is common in this population. The associations of hookah and opium use and inverse association of nass use with GERD symptoms are reported for the first time. Further studies are required to investigate the nature of these associations. Other determinants of GERD were mostly comparable to those reported elsewhere.
PMCID: PMC3931722  PMID: 24586635
5.  Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Obesity: a pooled analysis from the InterLymph consortium 
Nutritional status is known to alter immune function, a suspected risk factor for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). To investigate whether long-term over, or under, nutrition is associated with NHL self-reported anthropometric data on weight and height from over 10000 cases of NHL and 16000 controls were pooled across 18 case-control studies identified through the International Lymphoma Epidemiology Consortium. Study-specific odds ratios (OR) were estimated using logistic regression and combined using a random-effects model. Severe obesity, defined as BMI of 40 kg m−2 or more, was not associated with NHL overall (pooled OR=1.00, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.70–1.41) or the majority of NHL subtypes. An excess was however observed for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (pooled OR=1.80, 95% CI 1.24–2.62), although not all study-specific ORs were raised. Among the overweight (BMI 25–29.9 kg m−2) and obese (BMI 30–39.9 kg m−2), associations were elevated in some studies and decreased in others, while no association was observed among the underweight (BMI<18.5 kg m−2). There was little suggestion of increasing ORs for NHL or its subtypes with every 5 kg m−2 rise in BMI above 18.5 kg m−2. BMI components height and weight were also examined, and the tallest men, but not women, were at marginally increased risk (pooled OR=1.19, 95% CI 1.06–1.34). In summary, whilst we conclude that there is no evidence to support the hypothesis that obesity is a determinant of all types of NHL combined, the association between severe obesity and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma may warrant further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3928289  PMID: 18167059
non-Hodgkin lymphoma; lymphoma; body mass index; weight; height; epidemiology
6.  Smoking water-pipe, chewing nass, and prevalence of heart disease – A cross-sectional analysis of baseline data from the Golestan Cohort Study, Iran 
Heart (British Cardiac Society)  2012;99(4):272-278.
Water-pipe and smokeless tobacco use have been associated with several adverse health outcomes. However, little information is available on the association between water-pipe use and heart disease (HD). Therefore, we investigated the association of smoking water-pipe and chewing nass (a mixture of tobacco, lime, and ash) with prevalent HD.
Cross-sectional study.
Baseline data (collected in 2004–2008) from a prospective population-based study in Golestan Province, Iran.
50,045 residents of Golestan (40–75 years old; 42.4% male).
Main outcome measures
ORs and 95% CIs from multivariate logistic regression models for the association of water-pipe and nass use with HD prevalence.
A total of 3051 (6.1%) participants reported a history of HD, and 525 (1.1%) and 3726 (7.5%) reported ever water-pipe or nass use, respectively. Heavy water-pipe smoking was significantly associated with HD prevalence (highest level of cumulative use versus never use, OR= 3.75; 95% CI 1.52 – 9.22; P for trend= 0.04). This association persisted when using different cutoff points, when restricting HD to those taking nitrate compound medications, and among never cigarette smokers. There was no significant association between nass use and HD prevalence (highest category of use versus never use, OR= 0.91; 95% CI 0.69 – 1.20).
Our study suggests a significant association between HD and heavy water-pipe smoking. Although the existing evidence suggesting similar biological consequences of water-pipe and cigarette smoking make this association plausible, results of our study were based on a modest number of water-pipe users and need to be replicated in further studies.
PMCID: PMC3671096  PMID: 23257174
hookah; ischemic heart disease; nass; tobacco; water-pipe
7.  The gastro-esophageal malignancies in Northern Iran research project: impact on the health research and health care systems in Iran 
Archives of Iranian medicine  2013;16(1):46-53.
Since 2000, considerable progress has been made in health research in Iran. An example of this progress has been the Gastro- Esophageal Malignancies in Northern Iran (GEMINI). The original aim of this project was to identify etiologic factors and prevention measures for upper gastrointestinal cancers in Northern provinces of Iran, but its achievements have gone much beyond the initial goal. This project is one of the largest studies in the Middle East and North African region, has helped build and strengthen research capacity at both individual and institutional levels in Iran, and has provided international credibility to research institutes and the wider research system in Iran. The success of GEMINI reveals the feasibility of large-scale studies in developing countries and serves as a successful model not only for health research institutes within Iran, but also for research systems in other developing countries. The outcomes of the project are numerous, including establishment of research networks, development of efficient methods for planning and implementation of research projects, and introduction of methodologies for project management, data management and usage of health technology. Finally and perhaps most importantly, GEMINI is among the few projects that has had a significant impact on the attitudes and concerns of decision makers in the health sector in Iran. It signifies the importance of investment in human resources and has proved that health policies should be health-based rather than patient-based. Here we review the impact of GEMINI on the health research system and the broader health care system of Iran and put these into a more global perspective.
PMCID: PMC3659328  PMID: 23273237
research design; prospective studies; pilot projects; feasibility studies; planning techniques; methods; cancer epidemiology; gastroenterology
8.  Prevalence, awareness and risk factors of hypertension in a large cohort of Iranian adult population 
Journal of hypertension  2013;31(7):1364-1371.
There is considerable variation in hypertension prevalence and awareness, and their correlates, across different geographic locations and ethnic groups. We performed this cross-sectional analysis on data from the Golestan Cohort Study (GCS).
Enrollment in this study occurred in 2004–2008, and included 50,045 healthy subjects from Golestan Province in northeastern Iran. Hypertension was defined as a systolic blood pressure (SBP) ≥140, a diastolic blood pressure (DBP) ≥90, a prior diagnosis of hypertension, or the use of antihypertensive drugs. Potential correlates of hypertension and its awareness were analyzed by logistic regression adjusted for sex, age, BMI, place of residence, literacy, ethnicity, physical activity, smoking, black and green tea consumption and wealth score.
Of the total cohort participants, 21,350 (42.7%) were hypertensive. Age-standardized prevalence of hypertension, using the 2001 WHO standard world population, was 41.8% (95%CI: 38.3%–45.2%). Hypertension was directly associated with female sex, increased BMI, Turkmen ethnicity, and lack of physical activity, and inversely associated with drinking black tea and wealth score. Among hypertensive subjects, 46.2% were aware of their disease, 17.6% were receiving antihypertensive medication, and 32.1% of the treated subjects had controlled hypertension. Hypertension awareness was greater among women, the elderly, overweight and obese subjects, and those with a higher wealth score.
Hypertension is highly prevalent in rural Iran, many of the affected individuals are unaware of their disease, and the rate of control by antihypertensive medications is low. Increasing hypertension awareness and access to health services, especially among less privileged residents are recommended.
PMCID: PMC3766446  PMID: 23673348
hypertension; awareness; obesity; smoking; socioeconomic status
9.  A functional TNFRSF5 polymorphism and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a pooled analysis 
Interaction between CD40 and its ligand, CD154, has a key function in immune regulation. Recent experimental data support a role of deregulated CD40 signalling in lymphomagenesis. Data from earlier studies that are part of this pooling study implicate a functional polymorphism (−1C>T, rs1883832) in the TNFRSF5 gene encoding CD40 in the etiology of follicular lymphoma. Here, the association of this variant with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) risk was replicated in a European multicenter study of 855 NHL cases and 1,206 controls. In the combined analysis of 2,617 cases and 3,605 controls, carrying the TT genotype was associated with an increased risk for all NHL (OR = 1.4; p for linear trend = 0.00009), diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (OR = 1.6; p for linear trend = 0.002) and follicular lymphoma (OR = 1.6; p for linear trend = 0.001). These data suggest a possible role of this functional polymorphism in lymphomas originating within the germinal center.
PMCID: PMC3876741  PMID: 20473910
lymphoma; TNFRSF5; CD40; polymorphism; epidemiology
10.  Aspirin and NSAID use and lung cancer risk: a pooled analysis in the International Lung Cancer Consortium (ILCCO) 
Cancer causes & control : CCC  2011;22(12):10.1007/s10552-011-9847-z.
To investigate the hypothesis that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) lower lung cancer risk.
We analysed pooled individual-level data from seven case–control and one cohort study in the International Lung Cancer Consortium (ILCCO). Relative risks for lung cancer associated with self-reported history of aspirin and other NSAID use were estimated within individual studies using logistic regression or proportional hazards models, adjusted for packyears of smoking, age, calendar period, ethnicity and education and were combined using random effects meta-analysis.
A total of 4,309 lung cancer cases (mean age at diagnosis 65 years, 45% adenocarcinoma and 22% squamous-cell carcinoma) and 58,301 non-cases/controls were included. Amongst controls, 34% had used NSAIDs in the past (81% of them used aspirin). After adjustment for negative confounding by smoking, ever-NSAID use (affirmative answer to the study-specific question on NSAID use) was associated with a 26% reduction (95% confidence interval 8 to 41%) in lung cancer risk in men, but not in women (3% increase (−11% to 30%)). In men, the association was stronger in current and former smokers, and for squamous-cell carcinoma than for adenocarcinomas, but there was no trend with duration of use. No differences were found in the effects on lung cancer risk of aspirin and non-aspirin NSAIDs.
Evidence from ILCCO suggests that NSAID use in men confers a modest protection for lung cancer, especially amongst ever-smokers. Additional investigation is needed regarding the possible effects of age, duration, dose and type of NSAID and whether effect modification by smoking status or sex exists.
PMCID: PMC3852431  PMID: 21987079
NSAIDs; Aspirin; Lung cancer
11.  DNA methylation differences in exposed workers and nearby residents of the Ma Ta Phut industrial estate, Rayong, Thailand 
Background Adverse biological effects from airborne pollutants are a primary environmental concern in highly industrialized areas. Recent studies linked air pollution exposures with altered blood Deoxyribo-nucleic acid (DNA) methylation, but effects from industrial sources and underlying biological mechanisms are still largely unexplored.
Methods The Ma Ta Phut industrial estate (MIE) in Rayong, Thailand hosts one of the largest steel, oil refinery and petrochemical complexes in south-eastern Asia. We measured a panel of blood DNA methylation markers previously associated with air pollution exposures, including repeated elements [long interspersed nuclear element-1 (LINE-1) and Alu] and genes [p53, hypermethylated-in-cancer-1 (HIC1), p16 and interleukin-6 (IL-6)], in 67 MIE workers, 65 Ma Ta Phut residents and 45 rural controls. To evaluate the role of DNA damage and oxidation, we correlated DNA methylation measures with bulky DNA and 3-(2-deoxy-β-D-erythro-pentafuranosyl)pyrimido[1,2-α]purin-10(3H)-one deoxyguanosine (M1dG) adducts.
Results In covariate-adjusted models, MIE workers, compared with rural residents, showed lower LINE-1 (74.8% vs 78.0%; P < 0.001), p53 (8.0% vs 15.7%; P < 0.001) and IL-6 methylation (39.2% vs 45.0%; P = 0.027) and higher HIC1 methylation (22.2% vs 15.3%, P < 0.001). For all four markers, Ma Ta Phut residents exhibited methylation levels intermediate between MIE workers and rural controls (LINE-1, 75.7%, P < 0.001; p53, 9.0%, P < 0.001; IL-6, 39.8%, P = 0.041; HIC1, 17.8%, P = 0.05; all P-values vs rural controls). Bulky DNA adducts showed negative correlation with p53 methylation (P = 0.01). M1dG showed negative correlations with LINE-1 (P = 0.003) and IL-6 methylation (P = 0.05).
Conclusions Our findings indicate that industrial exposures may induce alterations of DNA methylation patterns detectable in blood leucocyte DNA. Correlation of DNA adducts with DNA hypomethylation suggests potential mediation by DNA damage.
PMCID: PMC3535756  PMID: 23064502
Air pollution; Ma Ta Phut; blood leucocytes; DNA methylation; DNA damage
12.  Association of body mass index and risk of death from pancreas cancer in Asians: findings from the Asia Cohort Consortium 
We aimed to examine the association between BMI and the risk of death from pancreas cancer in a pooled analysis of data from the Asia Cohort Consortium.
The data for this pooled-analysis included 883,529 men and women from 16 cohort studies in Asian countries. Cox proportional-hazards models were used to estimate the hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for pancreas cancer mortality in relation to BMI. Seven predefined BMI categories (<18.5, 18.5–19.9, 20.0–22.4, 22.5–24.9, 25.0–27.4, 27.5–29.9, ≥30) were used in the analysis, with BMI of 22.5–24.9 serving as the reference group. The multivariable analyses were adjusted for known risk factors, including age, smoking, and history of diabetes.
We found no statistically significant overall association between each BMI category and risk of death from pancreas cancer in all Asians, and obesity was unrelated to mortality risk in both East Asians and South Asians. Age, smoking, and history of diabetes did not modify the association between BMI and risk of death from pancreas cancer. In planned subgroup analyses among East Asians, an increased risk of death from pancreas cancer among those with a BMI<18.5 was observed for individuals with a history of diabetes; HR = 2.01(95%CI: 1.01–4.00) (p for interaction=0.07).
The data do not support an association between BMI and risk of death from pancreas cancer in these Asian populations.
PMCID: PMC3838869  PMID: 23044748
body mass index; insulin resistance; obesity; overweight; pancreatic cancer
13.  Vitamin or mineral supplement intake and the risk of head and neck cancer: pooled analysis in the INHANCE consortium 
To investigate the potential role of vitamin or mineral supplementation on the risk of head and neck cancer (HNC), we analyzed individual-level pooled data from 12 case-control studies (7,002 HNC cases and 8,383 controls) participating in the International Head and Neck Cancer Epidemiology consortium. There were a total of 2,028 oral cavity cancer, 2,465 pharyngeal cancer, and 874 unspecified oral/pharynx cancer, 1,329 laryngeal cancer and 306 overlapping HNC cases. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for self reported ever use of any vitamins, multivitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and calcium, beta-carotene, iron, selenium, and zinc supplements were assessed. We further examined frequency, duration and cumulative exposure of each vitamin or mineral when possible and stratified by smoking and drinking status. All ORs were adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, study center, education level, and pack-years of smoking, frequency of alcohol drinking and fruit/vegetable intake. A decreased risk of HNC was observed with ever use of vitamin C (OR=0.76, 95% CI=0.59-0.96) and with ever use of calcium supplement (OR=0.64, 95% CI=0.42-0.97). The inverse association with HNC risk was also observed for 10 or more years of vitamin C use (OR=0.72, 95% CI=0.54-0.97) and more than 365 tablets of cumulative calcium intake (OR=0.36, 95% CI=0.16-0.83), but linear trends were not observed for the frequency or duration of any supplement intake. We did not observe any strong associations between vitamin or mineral supplement intake and the risk of head and neck cancer.
PMCID: PMC3376697  PMID: 22173631
vitamin supplement; mineral supplement; head and neck cancer
14.  Previous Lung Diseases and Lung Cancer Risk: A Pooled Analysis From the International Lung Cancer Consortium 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2012;176(7):573-585.
To clarify the role of previous lung diseases (chronic bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, and tuberculosis) in the development of lung cancer, the authors conducted a pooled analysis of studies in the International Lung Cancer Consortium. Seventeen studies including 24,607 cases and 81,829 controls (noncases), mainly conducted in Europe and North America, were included (1984–2011). Using self-reported data on previous diagnoses of lung diseases, the authors derived study-specific effect estimates by means of logistic regression models or Cox proportional hazards models adjusted for age, sex, and cumulative tobacco smoking. Estimates were pooled using random-effects models. Analyses stratified by smoking status and histology were also conducted. A history of emphysema conferred a 2.44-fold increased risk of lung cancer (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.64, 3.62 (16 studies)). A history of chronic bronchitis conferred a relative risk of 1.47 (95% CI: 1.29, 1.68 (13 studies)). Tuberculosis (relative risk = 1.48, 95% CI: 1.17, 1.87 (16 studies)) and pneumonia (relative risk = 1.57, 95% CI: 1.22, 2.01 (12 studies)) were also associated with lung cancer risk. Among never smokers, elevated risks were observed for emphysema, pneumonia, and tuberculosis. These results suggest that previous lung diseases influence lung cancer risk independently of tobacco use and that these diseases are important for assessing individual risk.
PMCID: PMC3530374  PMID: 22986146
bronchitis; chronic; emphysema; lung diseases; lung neoplasms; meta-analysis; pneumonia; pulmonary disease; chronic obstructive; tuberculosis
15.  Cigarette smoking and lung cancer – relative risk estimates for the major histological types from a pooled analysis of case-control studies 
Lung cancer is mainly caused by smoking, but the quantitative relations between smoking and histologic subtypes of lung cancer remain inconclusive. Using one of the largest lung cancer datasets ever assembled, we explored the impact of smoking on risks of the major cell types of lung cancer. This pooled analysis included 13,169 cases and 16,010 controls from Europe and Canada. Studies with population controls comprised 66.5% of the subjects. Adenocarcinoma (AdCa) was the most prevalent subtype in never smokers and in women. Squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC) predominated in male smokers. Age-adjusted odds ratios (ORs) were estimated with logistic regression. ORs were elevated for all metrics of exposure to cigarette smoke and were higher for SqCC and small cell lung cancer (SCLC) than for AdCa. Current male smokers with an average daily dose of >30 cigarettes had ORs of 103.5 (95% CI 74.8-143.2) for SqCC, 111.3 (95% CI 69.8-177.5) for SCLC, and 21.9 (95% CI 16.6-29.0) for AdCa. In women, the corresponding ORs were 62.7 (95% CI 31.5-124.6), 108.6 (95% CI 50.7-232.8), and 16.8 (95% CI 9.2-30.6), respectively. Whereas ORs started to decline soon after quitting, they did not fully return to the baseline risk of never smokers even 35 years after cessation. The major result that smoking exerted a steeper risk gradient on SqCC and SCLC than on AdCa is in line with previous population data and biological understanding of lung cancer development.
PMCID: PMC3296911  PMID: 22052329
cigarette smoking; lung cancer; relative risk characterization; tobacco smoke; stem cells
16.  Increased risk of lung cancer in individuals with a family history of the disease: A pooled analysis from the International Lung Cancer Consortium 
Background and Methods
Familial aggregation of lung cancer exists after accounting for cigarette smoking. However, the extent to which family history affects risk by smoking status, histology, relative type and ethnicity is not well described. This pooled analysis included 24 case-control studies in the International Lung Cancer Consortium. Each study collected age of onset/interview, gender, race/ethnicity, cigarette smoking, histology and first-degree family history of lung cancer. Data from 24,380 lung cancer cases and 23,305 healthy controls were analyzed. Unconditional logistic regression models and generalized estimating equations were used to estimate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals.
Individuals with a first-degree relative with lung cancer had a 1.51-fold increase in risk of lung cancer, after adjustment for smoking and other potential confounders(95% CI: 1.39, 1.63). The association was strongest for those with a family history in a sibling, after adjustment (OR=1.82, 95% CI: 1.62, 2.05). No modifying effect by histologic type was found. Never smokers showed a lower association with positive familial history of lung cancer (OR=1.25, 95% CI: 1.03, 1.52), slightly stronger for those with an affected sibling (OR=1.44, 95% CI: 1.07, 1.93), after adjustment.
The increased risk among never smokers and similar magnitudes of the effect of family history on lung cancer risk across histological types suggests familial aggregation of lung cancer is independent of those associated with cigarette smoking. While the role of genetic variation in the etiology of lung cancer remains to be fully characterized, family history assessment is immediately available and those with a positive history represent a higher risk group.
PMCID: PMC3445438  PMID: 22436981
17.  A comprehensive study of polymorphisms in the ABCB1, ABCC2, ABCG2, NR1I2 genes and lymphoma risk 
Owing to their role in controlling the efflux of toxic compounds, transporters are central players in the process of detoxification and elimination of xenobiotics, which in turn is related to cancer risk. Among these transporters, ATP-binding cassette B1/multidrug resistance 1 (ABCB1/MDR1), ABCC2/multidrug resistance protein 2 (MRP2), and ABCG2/breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP) affect susceptibility to many hematopoietic malignancies. The maintenance of regulated expression of these transporters is governed through the activation of intracellular “xenosensors” like the nuclear receptor 1I2/pregnane X receptor (NR1I2/PXR). SNPs in genes encoding these regulators have also been implicated in the risk of several cancers. Using a tagging approach, we tested the hypothesis that common polymorphisms in the transporter genes ABCB1, ABCC2, ABCG2, and the regulator gene NR1I2 could be implicated in lymphoma risk. We selected 68 SNPs in the 4 genes, and we genotyped them in 1,481 lymphoma cases and 1,491 controls of the European cases-control study (EpiLymph) using the Illumina™ GoldenGate assay technology.Carriers of the SNP rs6857600 minor allele in ABCG2, was associated with a decrease in risk of B-cell lymphoma (B-NHL) overall (p<0.001). Furthermore, a decreased risk of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) was associated with the ABCG2 rs2231142 variant (p=0.0004), which could be replicated in an independent population. These results suggest a role for this gene in B-NHL susceptibility, especially for CLL.
PMCID: PMC3432449  PMID: 21918980
Lymphoma; multidrug resistance 1 (MDR1); multidrug resistance protein 2 (MRP2); breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP); pregnane X receptor (PXR)
Though tobacco smoking is the primary risk factor for lung cancer, a significant fraction of lung cancer deaths occur in lifetime non-smokers. In this paper, we calculate the burden of lung cancer in never-smokers attributable to previously identified risk factors in North America, Europe, and China, using population-based estimates of exposure prevalence and estimates of relative risk derived from recently published meta-analyses. Population attributable fractions (PAFs) for individual risk factors ranged from 0.40% to 19.93%. Due to differences in the prevalence of exposures, the PAFs associated with several of the risk factors varied greatly by geographical region. Exposure to the selected risk factors appeared to explain a much larger proportion of lung cancer cases in never-smokers in China than in Europe and North America. Our results demonstrate the geographic variability of the epidemiology of lung cancer in never-smokers, and highlight the need for further research in this area, particularly in Europe and North America.
PMCID: PMC3359408  PMID: 22322343
lung cancer; population attributable fraction; non-smokers
Alcohol and tobacco consumption are well recognized risk factors for head and neck cancer (HNC). Evidence suggests that genetic predisposition may also play a role. Only a few epidemiologic studies, however, have considered the relation between HNC risk and family history of HNC and other cancers. We pooled individual- level data across 12 case-control studies including 8,967 HNC cases and 13,627 controls. We obtained pooled odds ratios (OR) using fixed and random effect models, and adjusting for potential confounding factors. All statistical tests were two-sided. A family history of HNC in first-degree relatives increased the risk of HNC (OR=1.7, 95% confidence interval, CI, 1.2-2.3). The risk was higher when the affected relative was a sibling (OR=2.2, 95% CI 1.6-3.1) rather than a parent (OR=1.5, 95% CI 1.1-1.8), and for more distal HNC anatomic sites (hypopharynx and larynx). The risk was also higher, or limited to, subjects exposed to tobacco. The OR rose to 7.2 (95% CI 5.5-9.5) among subjects with family history, who were alcohol and tobacco users. A weak but significant association (OR=1.1, 95% CI 1.0-1.2) emerged for family history of other tobacco-related neoplasms, particularly with laryngeal cancer (OR=1.3, 95% CI 1.1-1.5). No association was observed for family history of non-tobacco related neoplasms and the risk of HNC (OR=1.0, 95% CI 0.9-1.1). Familial factors play a role in the etiology of HNC. In both subjects with and without family history of HNC, avoidance of tobacco and alcohol exposure may be the best way to avoid HNC.
PMCID: PMC3711193  PMID: 18814262
Head and neck cancer; family history; pooled analysis; tobacco; alcohol
20.  Inactivation of the putative suppressor gene DOK1 by promoter hypermethylation in primary human cancers 
The DOK1 gene is a putative tumour suppressor gene located on the human chromosome 2p13 which is frequently rearranged in leukemia and other human tumours. We previously reported that the DOK1 gene can be mutated and its expression down-regulated in human malignancies. However, the mechanism underlying DOK1 silencing remains largely unknown. We show here that unscheduled silencing of DOK1 expression through aberrant hypermethylation is a frequent event in a variety of human malignancies. DOK1 was found to be silenced in nine head and neck cancer (HNC) cell lines studied and DOK1 CpG hypermethylation correlated with loss of gene expression in these cells. DOK1 expression could be restored via demethylating treatment using 5-aza-2′deoxycytidine. In addition, transduction of cancer cell lines with DOK1 impaired their proliferation, consistent with the critical role of epigenetic silencing of DOK1 in the development and maintenance of malignant cells. We further observed that DOK1 hypermethylation occurs frequently in a variety of primary human neoplasm including solid tumours (93% in HNC, 81% in lung cancer) and hematopoietic malignancy (64% in Burkitt’s lymphoma). Control blood samples and exfoliated mouth epithelial cells from healthy individuals showed a low level of DOK1 methylation, suggesting that DOK1 hypermethylation is a tumour specific event. Finally, an inverse correlation was observed between the level of DOK1 gene methylation and its expression in tumour and adjacent non tumour tissues. Thus, hypermethylation of DOK1 is a potentially critical event in human carcinogenesis, and may be a potential cancer biomarker and an attractive target for epigenetic-based therapy.
PMCID: PMC3422753  PMID: 21796618
DOK1; DNA hypermethylation; gene silencing; tumour suppressor; cancer
21.  Recommendations and proposed guidelines for assessing the cumulative evidence on joint effects of genes and environments on cancer occurrence in humans 
We propose guidelines to evaluate the cumulative evidence of gene–environment (G × E) interactions in the causation of human cancer. Our approach has its roots in the HuGENet and IARC Monographs evaluation processes for genetic and environmental risk factors, respectively, and can be applied to common chronic diseases other than cancer. We first review issues of definitions of G × E interactions, discovery and modelling methods for G × E interactions, and issues in systematic reviews of evidence for G × E interactions, since these form the foundation for appraising the credibility of evidence in this contentious field. We then propose guidelines that include four steps: (i) score the strength of the evidence for main effects of the (a) environmental exposure and (b) genetic variant; (ii) establish a prior score category and decide on the pattern of interaction to be expected; (iii) score the strength of the evidence for interaction between the environmental exposure and the genetic variant; and (iv) examine the overall plausibility of interaction by combining the prior score and the strength of the evidence and interpret results. We finally apply the scheme to the interaction between NAT2 polymorphism and tobacco smoking in determining bladder cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC3481885  PMID: 22596931
Genetics; environment; interactions; evaluations
22.  Cancer Incidence in World Trade Center Rescue and Recovery Workers, 2001–2008 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2013;121(6):699-704.
Background: World Trade Center (WTC) rescue and recovery workers were exposed to a complex mix of pollutants and carcinogens.
Objective: The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate cancer incidence in responders during the first 7 years after 11 September 2001.
Methods: Cancers among 20,984 consented participants in the WTC Health Program were identified through linkage to state tumor registries in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) were calculated to compare cancers diagnosed in responders to predicted numbers for the general population. Multivariate regression models were used to estimate associations with degree of exposure.
Results: A total of 575 cancers were diagnosed in 552 individuals. Increases above registry-based expectations were noted for all cancer sites combined (SIR = 1.15; 95% CI: 1.06, 1.25), thyroid cancer (SIR = 2.39; 95% CI: 1.70, 3.27), prostate cancer (SIR = 1.21; 95% CI: 1.01, 1.44), combined hematopoietic and lymphoid cancers (SIR = 1.36; 95% CI: 1.07, 1.71), and soft tissue cancers (SIR = 2.26; 95% CI: 1.13, 4.05). When restricted to 302 cancers diagnosed ≥ 6 months after enrollment, the SIR for all cancers decreased to 1.06 (95% CI: 0.94, 1.18), but thyroid and prostate cancer diagnoses remained greater than expected. All cancers combined were increased in very highly exposed responders and among those exposed to significant amounts of dust, compared with responders who reported lower levels of exposure.
Conclusion: Estimates should be interpreted with caution given the short follow-up and long latency period for most cancers, the intensive medical surveillance of this cohort, and the small numbers of cancers at specific sites. However, our findings highlight the need for continued follow-up and surveillance of WTC responders.
PMCID: PMC3672914  PMID: 23613120
cancer; cancer incidence; cancer registry; epidemiology; September 11th; World Trade Center; WTC Health Program
23.  The chromosome 2p21 region harbors a complex genetic architecture for association with risk for renal cell carcinoma 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;21(5):1190-1200.
In follow-up of a recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) that identified a locus in chromosome 2p21 associated with risk for renal cell carcinoma (RCC), we conducted a fine mapping analysis of a 120 kb region that includes EPAS1. We genotyped 59 tagged common single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 2278 RCC and 3719 controls of European background and observed a novel signal for rs9679290 [P = 5.75 × 10−8, per-allele odds ratio (OR) = 1.27, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.17–1.39]. Imputation of common SNPs surrounding rs9679290 using HapMap 3 and 1000 Genomes data yielded two additional signals, rs4953346 (P = 4.09 × 10−14) and rs12617313 (P = 7.48 × 10−12), both highly correlated with rs9679290 (r2 > 0.95), but interestingly not correlated with the two SNPs reported in the GWAS: rs11894252 and rs7579899 (r2 < 0.1 with rs9679290). Genotype analysis of rs12617313 confirmed an association with RCC risk (P = 1.72 × 10−9, per-allele OR = 1.28, 95% CI: 1.18–1.39) In conclusion, we report that chromosome 2p21 harbors a complex genetic architecture for common RCC risk variants.
PMCID: PMC3277315  PMID: 22113997
24.  Asthma and lung cancer risk: a systematic investigation by the International Lung Cancer Consortium 
Carcinogenesis  2011;33(3):587-597.
Asthma has been hypothesized to be associated with lung cancer (LC) risk. We conducted a pooled analysis of 16 studies in the International Lung Cancer Consortium (ILCCO) to quantitatively assess this association and compared the results with 36 previously published studies. In total, information from 585 444 individuals was used. Study-specific measures were combined using random effects models. A meta-regression and subgroup meta-analyses were performed to identify sources of heterogeneity. The overall LC relative risk (RR) associated with asthma was 1.28 [95% confidence intervals (CIs) = 1.16–1.41] but with large heterogeneity (I2 = 73%, P < 0.001) between studies. Among ILCCO studies, an increased risk was found for squamous cell (RR = 1.69, 95%, CI = 1.26–2.26) and for small-cell carcinoma (RR = 1.71, 95% CI = 0.99–2.95) but was weaker for adenocarcinoma (RR = 1.09, 95% CI = 0.88–1.36). The increased LC risk was strongest in the 2 years after asthma diagnosis (RR = 2.13, 95% CI = 1.09–4.17) but subjects diagnosed with asthma over 10 years prior had no or little increased LC risk (RR = 1.10, 95% CI = 0.94–1.30). Because the increased incidence of LC was chiefly observed in small cell and squamous cell lung carcinomas, primarily within 2 years of asthma diagnosis and because the association was weak among never smokers, we conclude that the association may not reflect a causal effect of asthma on the risk of LC.
PMCID: PMC3291861  PMID: 22198214
25.  DNA methylation changes associated with risk factors in tumors of the upper aerodigestive tract 
Epigenetics  2012;7(3):270-277.
Cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract (UADT) are common forms of malignancy associated with tobacco and alcohol exposures, although human papillomavirus and nutritional deficiency are also important risk factors. While somatically acquired DNA methylation changes have been associated with UADT cancers, what triggers these events and precise epigenetic targets are poorly understood. In this study, we applied quantitative profiling of DNA methylation states in a panel of cancer-associated genes to a case-control study of UADT cancers. Our analyses revealed a high frequency of aberrant hypermethylation of several genes, including MYOD1, CHRNA3 and MTHFR in UADT tumors, whereas CDKN2A was moderately hypermethylated. Among differentially methylated genes, we identified a new gene (the nicotinic acetycholine receptor gene) as target of aberrant hypermethylation in UADT cancers, suggesting that epigenetic deregulation of nicotinic acetycholine receptors in non-neuronal tissues may promote the development of UADT cancers. Importantly, we found that sex and age is strongly associated with the methylation states, whereas tobacco smoking and alcohol intake may also influence the methylation levels in specific genes. This study identifies aberrant DNA methylation patterns in UADT cancers and suggests a potential mechanism by which environmental factors may deregulate key cellular genes involved in tumor suppression and contribute to UADT cancers.
PMCID: PMC3335950  PMID: 22430803
DNA methylation; upper aerodigestive tract; cancer; risk factors; biomarkers

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