Active and secondhand smoke exposure throughout life and DNA methylation in breast tumors

Catherine L. Callahan, Matthew R. Bonner, Jing Nie, Youjin Wang, Meng Hua Tao, Peter G. Shields, Catalin Marian, Kevin H. Eng, Maurizio Trevisan, Jo L. Freudenheim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: Tobacco smoke exposure has been associated with altered DNA methylation. However, there is a paucity of information regarding tobacco smoke exposure and DNA methylation of breast tumors. Methods: We conducted a case-only analysis using breast tumor tissue from 493 postmenopausal and 225 premenopausal cases in the Western New York Exposures and Breast Cancer (WEB) study. Methylation of nine genes (SFN, SCGB3A1, RARB, GSTP1, CDKN2A, CCND2, BRCA1, FHIT, and SYK) was measured with pyrosequencing. Participants reported their secondhand smoke (SHS) and active smoking exposure for seven time periods. Unconditional logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (OR) of having methylation higher than the median. Results: SHS exposure was associated with tumor DNA methylation among postmenopausal but not premenopausal women. Active smoking at certain ages was associated with increased methylation of GSTP1, FHIT, and CDKN2A and decreased methylation of SCGB3A1 and BRCA1 among both pre- and postmenopausal women. Conclusion: Exposure to tobacco smoke may contribute to breast carcinogenesis via alterations in DNA methylation. Further studies in a larger panel of genes are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-62
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Causes and Control
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Breast cancer
  • DNA methylation
  • Epigenetics
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Tobacco


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