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NIH to Fund New Study Regarding Exposure to Cigarette Smoke

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Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania recently received a $2.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for a new study focusing on the chemical changes that occur when the body is exposed to cigarette smoke.

Previous research has shown that chemical changes in the body can occur after exposure to cigarette smoke and that smoking and exposure to cigarette smoke is the environmental exposure responsible for causing more deaths than any other toxins. The chemical elements found in cigarette smoke can cause certain types of cancer and have been associated with cardiovascular, pulmonary and pancreatic diseases. Smokers, non-smokers and even individuals who are in regular contact with second-hand smoke will be screened for the presence of distinctive lipid and DNA biological indicators or chemicals and through additional discovery potential protein indicators in their blood, urine and breath. These indicators, also known as biomarkers or biochemicals, will be utilized to determine the susceptibility of individuals to tobacco-related lung and cardiovascular problems after exposure to cigarette smoke. The results will hopefully provide reliable data for use in subsequent studies.

“Only one in ten smokers get lung cancer, but the five-year survival rate after diagnosis is only 15 percent,” says Trevor M. Penning, PhD, Director of The Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET). “The question is, how can we intervene earlier to identify people most at risk. We aim to look at the interaction of genetic susceptibility to lung cancer and biomarkers of exposure to cigarette smoke. At the end of the day, if we study genetics and exposure together, we’ll hopefully have a very strong statement to say who is most at risk.”

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