Another Clue Explains Smoking Link to Oral Cancers

Those with habit have much higher levels of inflammatory protein

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MONDAY, Jan. 17, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- Smokers have elevated levels of cox-2, a cellular protein associated with the development and progression of cancer, says a study in the Jan. 15 issue of Cancer Research.

The study found smokers produce nearly four times as much cox-2 in oral mucosal cells that line the mouth than nonsmokers.

The researchers also found these elevated cox-2 levels are caused by tobacco smoke-induced activation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a cell membrane protein that's also linked with different kinds of cancer.

"In an oral mucosal cell line, tobacco smoke clearly activated the epidermal growth factor receptor. Tobacco smoke caused increased EGFR phosphorylation leading to increased cox-2 production," study author Dr. Andrew J. Dannenberg, director of cancer prevention at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, said in a prepared statement.

"These results strengthen the rationale for targeting not only cox-2, but also EGFR as approaches for reducing the risk of tobacco-related malignancies of the mouth and throat," Dannenberg said.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about cigarettes and cancer.

SOURCE: American Association for Cancer Research, news release, Jan. 15, 2005

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