Conventional Secondhand Smoke Assessment Faulted

July 4, 2008

In the assessment of patients exposed to secondhand smoke, measurements of biological markers may be better indicators of exposure and lung cancer risk than conventional assessment methods, researchers report in the July issue of The Lancet Oncology.

FRIDAY, July 4 (HealthDay News) -- In the assessment of patients exposed to secondhand smoke, measurements of biological markers may be better indicators of exposure and lung cancer risk than conventional assessment methods, researchers report in the July issue of The Lancet Oncology.

Ahmad Besaratinia, M.D., of the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, Calif., and a colleague reviewed recent research on the association between secondhand smoke and lung cancer, and focused on the possible mechanisms -- such as genotoxic and epigenetic effects -- that lead to its development.

The researchers found that conventional exposure assessment using secondhand smoke indices -- such as measurements of ambient air or body fluids -- may underestimate long-term exposure and complicate estimated risks for lung cancer development.

"Future investigations should use comprehensive footprinting of secondhand smoke-induced DNA adducts with respect to mutagenicity and thorough analysis of DNA methylation status in relation to gene expression in cancer-related genes," the authors conclude. "Not only can these investigations improve our knowledge of the underlying mechanisms through which secondhand smoke may contribute to lung carcinogenesis, but they can also help identify specific biomarkers that can be used for early detection and prognosis and treatment strategy assessment of lung cancer."

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