Background: Studies on the associations between persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and smoking according to gender and smoking amount (cigarettes/day) are limited, and the results regarding the relationship between POPs and smoking are not completely consistent across studies.
Objectives: The smoking rate in Korea is one of the highest among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. We investigated the association between serum concentrations of POPs and cigarette smoking in Koreans by smoking status (never-smoker/ever-smoker) and smoking amount (cigarettes/day) according to gender.
Methods: Serum concentrations of 32 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and 19 organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) were measured in 401 participants (232 men and 169 women) who received health examinations during the Korean Cancer Prevention Study-II. We compared POP levels in ever-smokers and never-smokers and conducted multivariate logistic regression analyses to identify associations between POPs and smoking.
Results: Among women, the concentrations of PCB 156, PCB 167, and PCB 180 were significantly higher in ever-smokers than in never-smokers. After adjustments for age, body mass index, gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase, and alcohol intake, serum PCB 157 concentration was positively associated with male ever-smokers (OR 2.26; 95% CI, 1.01–5.04). In addition, trans-nonachlordane in OCPs as well as PCBs was significantly positively related with female ever-smokers (OR 3.21; 95% CI, 1.04–9.86). We found that subjects who smoked fewer than 15 cigarettes/day had a higher risk of having high POP concentrations than never-smokers.
Conclusions: These results indicate that smoking may be associated with human serum POPs levels.