• picture
  • picture
PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Health Note: Nicotine Metabolization

Air Date: Week of February 1, 2002

stream/download this segment as an MP3 file

Living on Earth’s Diane Toomey reports on a study that has found ethnic differences in the way nicotine is metabolized.

Transcript

CURWOOD: Coming up, pollution and politics mix in the waters that run through the nation's capitals. First, this Environmental Health Note from Diane Toomey:

[THEME MUSIC]

TOOMEY: Chinese-Americans get less lung cancer from smoking than other ethnic groups. They smoke fewer cigarettes so that's one reason for the lower rate. But researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, thought that ethnic differences in how the body breaks down nicotine might play a role so they gave groups of Latino, white and Chinese-American smokers an intravenous dose of radioactively-tagged nicotine. Then blood and urine samples were taken over the next four days to measure levels of nicotine and its by-products.

They found that Chinese-American smokers metabolize nicotine 35 percent slower than Latinos or whites. That means they can satisfy their nicotine addiction with fewer cigarettes since the substance tends to stay active in their system longer. A particular liver enzyme is primarily responsible for metabolizing nicotine. As expected, this study found lower levels of this enzyme among Chinese-Americans. Researchers say the finding supports growing evidence that ethnicity can affect people's response to chemicals and should be taken into account in prescribing drugs and treatments, such as nicotine patches and gum. That's this week's Health Update. I'm Diane Toomey.

CURWOOD: And you're listening to Living on Earth.

[MUSIC: Project One, "4(I)", SOMETIME GOD SMILES]

 

 

Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

P.O. Box 990007
Prudential Station
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Telephone: 1-617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Newsletter
Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Major funding for Living on Earth is provided by the National Science Foundation.

Committed to healthy food, healthy people, a healthy planet, and healthy business.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live.

Kendeda Fund, furthering the values that contribute to a healthy planet.

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary hummingbird photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.