Learning Objectives: Become aware of tobacco industry tactics to build relations with reputable scientific institutions, create peer-reviewed articles and criticize research which threatens their mission and product.
Abstract: Objective: Our objective was to investigate tobacco industry research on enzyme CYP2A6. The main component in tobacco that initiates and sustains addiction is nicotine. Researchers have recently discovered ethnic variations in the enzyme CYP2A6, which is involved in metabolizing nicotine to cotinine. Genetic variation in the CYP2A6 enzyme may also potentially affect lung cancer risk, since CYP2A6 has been implicated in the metabolic activation of several carcinogens. Researchers have also shown that differences in smoking behaviors in ethnic populations might also be explained by variations of the CYP2A6 nicotine metabolic pathway.
Methods: We identified and analyzed internal tobacco industry documents from the Philip Morris website (www.pmdocs.com).
Results: The industry was aware of CYP2A6 research in the academic community and the potential impact it might have on its market. The tobacco industry was concerned that this research could suggest that the industry was targeting genetically susceptible populations. Therefore, the tobacco industry funded a counter-study to discredit the methodology of the mainstream scientific community which had established the relationship of the genetic polymorphism of the CYP2A6 enzyme and ethnic variations in nicotine metabolism.
Discussion: The tobacco industry funded and disseminated a study to obtain data and built relationships with academic institutions.
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