Rats passively exposed to tobacco smoke become dependent on nicotine, according to a new study1 by Dr. Adrie Bruijnzeel and colleagues from the University of Florida in the US. Their findings of how rats' brains respond to exposure to tobacco smoke have implications for the study of the effects of tobacco smoke on the human brain even from passive exposure to other smokers, and for future studies testing new treatments for tobacco addiction. Their work has just been published online in Springer's journal Psychopharmacology. Nicotine as well as many other compounds in tobacco smoke act together on the brain reward system and are addicting in smokers, but the effects of passive exposure have not been studied. In order to develop drug therapies for tobacco addiction, animal models that investigate the long-term effects of mere passive exposure to the addictive compounds in tobacco smoke are needed. In a set of four experiments on male Wistar rats, Dr. Bruijnzeel and colleagues investigated whether rats exposed passively to tobacco smoke would become dependent on nicotine.
New research showing that thrill-seeking teenagers are especially susceptible to fruit-flavored cigarettes is in line with the recent ban on the sale of flavored cigarettes by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in September 2009. According to the FDA, the ban, authorized by the new Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, is part of a national effort by the FDA to reduce smoking, which is the leading preventable cause of death in America. "We found that those teens who gravitate toward novel experiences were especially drawn to cigarettes described as having an appealing, sweet flavor, such as cherry, " says lead author Kenneth Manning with Colorado State University. The study, published in the December issue of the journal Tobacco Control, was funded by the Substance Abuse Policy Research Program (SAPRP) of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Past research has found that high-sensation-seeking youth are more likely to smoke cigarettes than their low-sensation-seeking peers, Manning notes.
Aided by next-generation DNA sequencing technology, an international team of researchers has gained insights into how more than 60 carcinogens associated with cigarette smoke bind to and chemically modify human DNA, ultimately leading to cancer-causing genetic mutations. In a new study available online and in a future issue of the journal Nature, lung-cancer experts in the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center worked with scientists from the Cancer Genome Project in the United Kingdom to determine the entire genetic sequence of cancer cells from a patient with small-cell lung cancer (SCLC). They then compared those results with normal DNA isolated from the same patient. Using new DNA sequencing technology called "massively parallel sequencing, " the researchers searched the DNA sequences for differences between tumor and normal cells. They found more than 23, 000 mutations that the tumor cells had acquired and also discovered a new gene involved in lung cancer named CHD7.
Canadian researchers have discovered a novel molecular mechanism that prevents cancer. In the December 11 edition of the prestigious journal Molecular Cell, scientists from the Universit√ de Montr√ al and the Universit√ de Sherbrooke explain how they found that the SOCS1 molecule prevents the cancer-causing activity of cytokines, hormones that are culprits in cancer-prone chronic inflammation diseases such as Crohns, in smokers and people exposed to asbestos. "Excessive cytokine activity promotes cancer, " says Dr. Gerardo Ferbeyre, senior author and a Universit√ de Montr√ al biochemistry professor. "Discovery of these mechanisms will enable scientists to design a cancer-prevention strategy for people with chronic inflammatory diseases and lead to better understanding of the human body's natural defenses against cancer." The research team didn't anticipate that SOCS1 would turn out to be linked to p53, the master regulator of natural anticancer defenses. "We were surprised to realize that SOCS1 was directly linked to p53, " says first author and Universit√ de Montr√ al student, Viviane Calabrese.
Only 5.4% of the world's population was covered by comprehensive smoke-free laws in 2008, up from 3.1% in 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported in its second report on the global tobacco epidemic. This means that 154 million more people are no longer exposed to the harms of tobacco smoke in work places, restaurants, bars and other indoor public places. Seven countries - Colombia, Djibouti, Guatemala, Mauritius, Panama, Turkey and Zambia - implemented comprehensive smoke-free laws in 2008, bringing the total to 17. These findings, and others are contained in the WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2009. "Although this represents progress, the fact that more than 94% of people remain unprotected by comprehensive smoke-free laws shows that much more work needs to be done, " said WHO Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health Dr Ala Alwan. "Urgent action is needed to protect people from the death and illness cause by exposure to tobacco smoke.
Children who are exposed to tobacco smoke during their early development can develop abnormal behavioral symptoms by the age of ten years. This association was discovered using data from the GINI-plus study by scientists of Helmholtz Zentrum M√ nchen in collaboration with colleagues of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit√ t Munich, Technische Universit√ t M√ nchen and Marienhospital Wesel. The scientists observed that the impact of tobacco smoke was especially detrimental during gestation. The results of the study have been published in the current online issue of the renowned journal Environmental Health Perspectives. "We were able to show that children who are exposed to tobacco smoke prenatally and during the first years of life have a higher risk of developing abnormal behavioral symptoms when they are of school age, " said Dr. Joachim Heinrich of the Institute of Epidemiology at Helmholtz Zentrum M√ nchen. "Moreover, it makes a difference whether the child was exposed to tobacco smoke first after birth or was already confronted with it during prenatal development.
The WHO announced Friday it was expanding its efforts to control tobacco use in Africa, Reuters/ABC News reports. The agency "said it wanted to stop tobacco from becoming as prevalent in Africa as it is in other parts of the world and would set up a regional hub in 2010 for health experts to work with governments to introduce anti-smoking policies, " the news service writes. "Experts at the center will work with governments to help them introduce and enforce policies such as smoke-free public places and bans on tobacco advertising and sponsorship for sports and other events" (Kelland, 12/4). "Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of illness and death, " said Ala Alwan, WHO assistant director-general for noncommunicable diseases and mental health, the Daily Monitor/allAfrica.com reports. "It kills more than 5 million people per year. Unchecked, it will kill more than 8 million people per year by 2030, with more than 80% of those deaths occurring in developing countries, " he said (12/6).
New funding worth more than ¬ 650, 000 for smoking prevention was announced today (7 December) by Health Minister Edwina Hart. The announcement comes as new figures show that the first full year of the smoking ban in Wales has heralded a steep decline in the number of heart attacks. A total of ¬ 155, 000 over the next two years will go into the ASSIST programme, where health promotion experts train pupils to persuade their friends not to start smoking or to give up, and more than ¬ 500, 000 will be allocated for wider smoking prevention activity. 58 schools have already benefited from the ASSIST programme, with another 8 currently completing this term. The new funding will allow a further 20 schools to benefit from the programme over the next two years. Edwina Hart said: "Smoking prevention for young people is a high priority as the majority of smokers take up the habit in their teenage years. "The Chief Medical Officer's annual report to be published later this week will show that hospital admissions for heart attacks were reduced last year.
Crain's New York Business : "Independent New York pharmacies say new state budget cuts will drive more drugstores out of business. Albany's deficit reduction plan calls for $18.5 million in savings from Medicaid and Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) pharmacy reimbursement rates. What made those cuts possible was a September federal rule that changed the definition of the Average Wholesale Price, the benchmark used to determine pharmacy reimbursement rates in New York. ... As a result, independent pharmacies will see an almost 4% cut in reimbursement for filling brand-name drug prescriptions for Medicaid, a collective $100 million annual hit, says the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York" (Benson, 12/8). The Associated Press : "States cut funding for state tobacco prevention programs more than 15 percent this year, pushing it further than ever below federally recommended levels, according to a report that a coalition of public health groups is releasing Wednesday.
"We were able to show that children who are exposed to tobacco smoke prenatally and during the first years of life have a higher risk of developing abnormal behavioral symptoms when they are of school age, " said Dr. Joachim Heinrich of the Institute of Epidemiology at Helmholtz Zentrum M√ nchen. "Moreover, it makes a difference whether the child was exposed to tobacco smoke first after birth or was already confronted with it during prenatal development." According to the study, children who were only exposed to tobacco smoke prenatally have a 1.9 times higher risk of developing abnormal behavioral symptoms in comparison to children without any exposure (change this if it is the wrong comparison). The risk for children first exposed to tobacco smoke after birth is 1.3 times higher. Furthermore, children who were exposed to tobacco smoke both while in the womb and while growing up doubled the risk of developing abnormal behavioral symptoms. Such symptoms include hyperactivity, attention deficits or problems in their relationships with peers.