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Bottom Line: Ninety-four percent of adolescents ages 13 to 19 in an economically disadvantaged, largely minority population in San Francisco had measurable levels of a biomarker specific for exposure to tobacco smoke (NNAL).

Journal in Which the Study Was Published: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Author: Neal L. Benowitz, MD, professor of Medicine and Bioengineering & Therapeutic Sciences, and chief of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

Background: Benowitz explained that exposure of adolescents to secondhand smoke poses a public health challenge because it increases risk for respiratory infections, aggravates asthma, and is linked to an increased likelihood of becoming an active smoker.

In a prior study, Benowitz and colleagues showed that 87 percent of adolescents in an economically disadvantaged population had evidence of exposure to nicotine, as defined by the presence of cotinine in urine samples.

In this study, they set out to assess tobacco smoke exposure in this population by measuring levels of NNAL in urine samples. Benowitz explained that NNAL is detectable in urine for much longer periods after tobacco exposure compared with cotinine and that it is present only

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