Covalent binding of aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) with hepatic DNA may be a critical step in hepatocarcinogenesis. The extent of the AFB1 binding to DNA may depend on various endogenous factors and concurrent exposure to other environmental agents. This study was performed to determine whether any individual characteristics correlated with the formation of AFB1-DNA adducts. The major AFB1-DNA adduct, AFB1-N7-guanine, was measured using a high performance liquid chromatographic assay in urine samples from 43 asymptomatic hepatitis B virus surface antigen carriers and 43 noncarriers randomly selected from a cohort study in Taiwan. The total aflatoxin metabolite level was associated with the detection rate of urinary AFB1-N7-guanine adducts in a dose-dependent manner. The AFB1-DNA adduct excreted in the urine was detectable in 60% of individuals who smoked cigarettes but abstained from alcohol, 64% of individuals who had a habit of drinking alcohol but not smoking cigarettes, and only 29% of those who neither smoked nor drank alcohol. The association between urinary AFB1-DNA adduct level and habits of smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol remained statistically significant when adjustment was made for potential confounders. There was a significant increase with age for the detection rate of urinary AFB1-N7-guanine adducts. Age and habits of cigarette smoking and alcohol drinking were also found to be associated with a higher percentage of AFB1-N7-guanine in total AFB1 metabolite excretion, indicating an increased activation of AFB1. No significant association with the AFB1-DNA adduct level was observed for hepatitis B virus surface antigen carrier status, educational level, and ethnicity. These data suggest a potential role of age, cigarette smoking, and alcohol drinking in AFB1-induced hepatocarcinogenesis.

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