Kentucky medical researchers are trying to determine why lung cancers strike more often in Appalachia than in many other places in the U.S.
This investigation was only one of the community-based studies reviewed Wednesday during Appalachian Research Day in Hazard.
Markey Cancer Center Associate Director for Clinical Translation Susanne Arnold says 120 lung cancer patients took part in trace element exposure research. The medical oncologist says the study included in-home toe nail sampling. “Which sounds like a really crazy thing to do, but that’s a really good marker of trace element exposure like arsenic, chromium, cadmium, manganese and other trace elements that can be associated with cancer,” said Arnold.
Arnold says, surprisingly, the research found lower levels of trace elements in cancer patients than the control participants.
While smoking has been linked to lung cancer for years, there is still a higher incidence of this form of cancer in Appalachia compared to many other parts of the U.S.
Arnold says future research may include examining addiction tendencies. “How the Appalachian population fares in terms of tobacco addiction. Are they more likely to be addicted. Do they smoke more? Do they clear the tobacco smoke out of their body quickly so they have to have more cigarette to reach that nicotine addiction threshold?” asked Arnold. “We don’t know that yet.”
Counting the control participants in the study, Arnold says the total number came to 520 people.