Smoking initiation is followed by the early acquisition of epigenetic change in cervical epithelium: a longitudinal study.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background:To prove a causal link between an epigenetic change and an environmental or behavioural risk factor for a given disease, it is first necessary to show that the onset of exposure precedes the first detection of that epigenetic change in subjects who are still free of disease.Methods:Towards this end, a cohort of women aged 15-19 years, recruited soon after they first had sexual intercourse, were used to provide sequential observations on the relationship between cigarette smoking and the detection in cervical cytological samples of methylated forms of CDKN2A (p16) using nested methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction.Results:Among women who remained cytologically normal and who tested negative for human papillomavirus DNA in cervical smears during follow-up, those who first started to smoke during follow-up had an increased risk of acquiring CDKN2A methylation compared with never-smokers (odds ratio=3.67; 95% confidence interval 1.09-12.33; P=0.04).Conclusion:Smoking initiation is associated with the appearance of methylated forms of CDKN2A.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1500-4
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2011