Mechanisms of the synergistic lung tumorigenic effect of arsenic and benzo(a)pyrene combined- exposure

Zhishan Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Humans are often exposed to mixtures of environmental pollutants especially environmental chemical carcinogens, representing a significant environmental health issue. However, our understanding on the carcinogenic effects and mechanisms of environmental carcinogen mixture exposures is limited and mostly relies on the findings from studying individual chemical carcinogens. Both arsenic and benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) are among the most common environmental carcinogens causing lung cancer and other types of cancer in humans. Millions of people are exposed to arsenic via consuming arsenic-contaminated drinking water and even more people are exposed to BaP via cigarette smoking and consuming BaP-contaminated food. Thus arsenic and BaP combined-exposure in humans is common. Previous epidemiology studies indicated that arsenic-exposed people who were cigarette smokers had significantly higher lung cancer risk than those who were non-smokers. Since BaP is one of the major carcinogens in cigarette smoke, it has been speculated that arsenic and BaP combined-exposure may play important roles in the increased lung cancer risk observed in arsenic-exposed cigarette smokers. In this review, we summarize important findings and inconsistencies about the co-carcinogenic effects and underlying mechanisms of arsenic and BaP combined-exposure and propose new areas for future studies. A clear understanding on the mechanism of co-carcinogenic effects of arsenic and BaP combined exposure may identify novel targets to more efficiently treat and prevent lung cancer resulting from arsenic and BaP combined-exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-162
Number of pages7
JournalSeminars in Cancer Biology
StatePublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Arsenic
  • Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP)
  • Co-exposure
  • Combined-exposure
  • Epigenetic effect
  • Genotoxic effect
  • Lung tumorigenesis
  • Mixture exposure
  • Synergistic effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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