Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 1st 2015 Contents B26
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, October 1, 2015
The mystery of why some people appear to have
healthy lungs despite a lifetime of smoking has
been explained by UK scientists.
The analysis of more than 50,000 people showed
favourable mutations in people s DNA enhanced
lung function and masked the deadly impact of
smoking. The Medical Research Council scientists
say the findings could lead to new drugs to improve
But not smoking will always be the best option,
they say. Many, but not all, smokers will develop
lung disease. But so too will some who have never
touched a cigarette in their lives.
The researchers analysed the huge amount of
health and genetic data from volunteers to the UK s
Biobank project. They looked at Chronic Obstructive
Pulmonary Disease (COPD) which leads to breath-
lessness, coughing and repeat chest infections. The
condition is thought to affect three million people
in the UK and includes diseases such as bronchitis
By comparing smokers and non-smokers as well
as those with the disease and without, they discovered
sections of our DNA that reduce the risk of COPD.
So smokers with "good genes" had a lower risk
of COPD than those with "bad genes."
Prof Martin Tobin, one of the researchers at the
University of Leicester, said the genes seemed to
affect the way the lungs grow and respond to injury.
But he told the BBC News Web site: "There doesn t
appear to be any kind of magic bullet that would
give anyone guaranteed protection against tobacco
smoke---they would still have lungs that were
unhealthier than they would be had they been a
"The strongest thing that people can do to affect
their future health in terms of COPD and also smok-
ing-related disease like cancer and heart disease is
to stop smoking."
The habit also increases the risk of heart disease
and cancers, which are not considered in this study.
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
The scientists also uncovered parts
of the genetic code which were more
common in smokers than non-smok-
ers. They seem to alter the brain s func-
tion and how easily someone can
become addicted to nicotine, although
that still needs to be confirmed.
Prof Tobin said the findings offered
"fantastic new clues about how the
body works that we really had little
idea about before and it s those things
that are likely to lead to some really
exciting breakthroughs for drug devel-
Their findings were presented at a
meeting of the European Respiratory
Society and published in the Lancet
Respiratory Medicine journal.
Ian Jarrold, the head of research at
the British Lung Foundation, said:
"These findings represent a significant
step forward in helping us achieve a
clearer picture about the fascinating
and intricate reality of lung health.
Understanding genetic predisposition
is essential in not only helping us devel-
op new treatments for people with
lung disease but also in teaching oth-
erwise healthy people how to better
take care of their lungs." (BBC)
Rare 'healthy' smokers' lungs explained
WASHINGTON---US oil refineries will face tighter
standards in coming years on toxic emissions that
cause lung problems and increase cancer risks,
environmental regulators said on Tuesday.
The Environmental Protection Agency finalised a
rule, to be fully implemented in 2018, that aims to
reduce emissions of benzene and other toxic emissions.
The EPA said the capital cost to refiners will be
about US$283 million, with an annualised cost of
US$63 million, but that the standards will have a
"negligible impact on the costs of petroleum products,"
like gasoline and diesel fuel.
Gina McCarthy, the EPA administrator, said the
pollution cuts will lower the cancer risk from refineries
for more than 1.4 million people and are a "substantial
step forward in EPA s work to protect the health of
vulnerable communities located near these facilities."
The standard will require continuous monitoring
of concentrations of benzene and other pollutants
at the fence line of refineries. The EPA said it would
strengthen emissions controls at flares, storage tanks
and delayed coker operations that will cut thousands
of tons of hazardous air pollutants.
The American Petroleum Institute industry group
said the EPA had made "substantial improvements"
in the rule, but estimated that the regulation could
still cost up to US$1 billion.
"Despite these improvements, regulators need to
be thoughtful about the additional impacts of new
regulations and added costs to delivering affordable
energy to US consumers," said Bob Greco, an API
refinery issues official. (Reuters)
US rule to cut toxic
emissions at refineries
Prof Martin Tobin, researcher at the University of
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