Smokers, this is exactly what leads to lung cancer

February 29th, 2008 - 12:38 am ICT by admin  

Washington, Feb 28 (IANS) Smoking can kill, but no one has really quite understood how and why cigarettes cause healthy lung cells to become cancerous. Now researchers say they have the answer: hydrogen peroxide (or a similar oxidant) in the smoke is the culprit. These findings by researchers at the University of California at Davis could spur the tobacco industry into developing “safer” cigarettes by eliminating such substances, even as they give medical researchers a new avenue to develop lung cancer treatments.

The findings of the study are being published in the forthcoming issue of the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB).

“With the five-year survival rate for people with lung cancer at a dismally low 15.5 percent, we hope this study will provide better insight into the identification of new therapeutic targets,” said Tzipora Goldkorn, co-author of the report.

During the decade beginning 2010, a new study says smoking will cause about 930,000 adult deaths in India annually. Of the dead, about 70 percent will be between 30 and 69 years.

In the article, Goldkorn and his colleagues describe how they exposed different sets of human lung airway cells to cigarette smoke and hydrogen peroxide in the lab.

After exposure, these cells were then incubated for one to two days. Then they, along with unexposed airway cells, were assessed for signs of cancer development.

The cells exposed to cigarettes smoke and the cells exposed to hydrogen peroxide showed the same molecular signatures of cancer development, while the unexposed cells did not.

“Guns kill, bombs kill and cigarettes kill,” said Gerald Weissmann, editor of FASEB.

“These experiments not only pin-point new molecular targets for cancer treatment, but also identify culprits in cigarette smoke that eventually will do the smoker in.”

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