DNA repair has a major role in suppressing the rate of accumulation of mutations. Therefore, variations in DNA repair are likely to play an important role in determining cancer risk. While there is compelling evidence that defects in DNA repair cause high predisposition to several hereditary cancers, there is a paucity of data on the role of DNA repair in sporadic cancers. We present our approach of using functional DNA repair tests, rather than gene polymorphism, to study the potential of DNA repair enzymes to serve as biomarkers for lung cancer risk. We have previously developed a functional DNA repair blood test for the enzymatic repair of the oxidative DNA lesion 8-oxoguanine, and found that reduced OGG activity is a risk factor in non-small cell lung cancer. Moreover the combination of smoking and low OGG activity was associated with a greatly increased lung cancer risk (Paz-Elizur et al, JNCI 95 (2003) 1312-1319). The use of OGG activity as a potential biomarker for lung cancer risk is validated in collaboration with the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, under the sponsorship of the Associate Members Program of the Early Detection Research Network (EDRN, NCI, NIH).