(RxWiki News) Lung cancer. Cardiovascular disease. Oral cancer. These are just a few of the accelerated risks smokers live with and could - well you know. Another form of cancer has been added to the list.
Smoking increases the level of lead in the blood of smokers. And this increases the tobacco addict's risk of developing renal cell carcinoma two-fold.
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Researchers at Penn State, including medical student, Emily B. Southard, and Robin Taylor Wilson, associate professor of public health sciences, analyzed data from the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene (ATBC) Cancer Prevention Study.
They measured the levels of lead, calcium and vitamin D in stored blood samples donated by healthy individuals several years before the kidney cancer developed.
The ATBC study involved some 30,000 Finnish men between the ages of 50 and 69 who were smokers. Blood samples were collected periodically over 20 years.
The Penn State researchers looked at a group within the ATBC study that included 154 men who were diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma after the first blood samples were collected and 308 healthy men.
Interestingly, among kidney cancer patients alone, those who had higher blood levels of calcium and vitamin D took longer to develop the kidney cancer. This was determined by analyzing the blood samples collected when they first enrolled in the study as healthy individuals.
This is important because currently there are no tests to screen for kidney cancer.
"This association suggests that vitamin D and calcium biomarkers may be important clues that can lead us to the early diagnosis of cancer," said Wilson.
Previous research has found higher levels of lead in the kidneys of cadavers. This is the first time such an association has been made with living humans.
"Now we have shown that elevated blood lead levels put smokers at higher risk for renal cell carcinoma." Southard said.
This study was reported online in January 2012 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.
The American Institute for Cancer Research and the Pennsylvania Department of Health Tobacco Settlement Fund supported this work.