1992 the federal Environmental Protection Agency, using epidemiological
studies, declared secondhand smoke to be a human carcinogen. Nevertheless,
questions remain: At what concentrations does secondhand smoke cause
cancer? Over what period of time? And more importantly, can drugs
or diet make a difference in preventing cancer?
research published in the May issue of the journal Carcinogenesis,
Witschi answers this latter question in the affirmative. His lab
found a diet of dexamethasone, a corticosteroid used to treat asthma,
and myoinositol, a substance found in cereal bran, to be effective
in preventing lung cancer in male mice exposed to heavy tobacco
smoke. It is, Witschi believes, the first animal model study to
test substances that might prevent smoking-induced lung cancer.
tested several compounds that had previously been shown to prevent
cancer, but these studies were done on mice injected with tobacco
carcinogens," says Witschi. "These agents didn't work
in mice who had inhaled smoke, a model that has much more in common
with how humans develop lung cancer."
himself a reformed smoker, has spent 20 years tracking acute pulmonary
disease. A medical doctor and professor of toxicology, he studies
adenocarcinoma of the lung, the most common tumor found in smokers.
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