Epidemiological studies suggest that smoking during pregnancy and passive exposure of children to cigarette smoke may increase the cancer risk in children and young adults. We have previously shown that the tobacco-specific nitrosamine 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) is an active transplacental carcinogen in Syrian golden hamsters when administered by s.c. injections to pregnant females. The majority of tumors in the offspring developed in the respiratory tract.

Since in smoking women the respiratory tract is the portal of entry of tobacco-related carcinogens, including NNK, we have investigated the transplacental effects of NNK given by intratracheal instillation to pregnant hamsters. The modulating effect of ethanol on the transplacental carcinogenicity of NNK in this system was also investigated because smoking and consumption of alcoholic beverages are observed in pregnant women. Our data show that exposure to NNK via the maternal respiratory tract causes a similar tumor incidence in the offspring as the s.c. route of administration. Ethanol greatly enhanced the carcinogenic response to NNK, and up to 60% of the offspring exposed in utero to ethanol and NNK developed tumors of the exocrine pancreas.

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Supported by USPHS Grant CA42829-06 from the National Cancer Institute.

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