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Blood Test Catches Secret Smokers
Date:10/22/2007

said the device can be calibrated to detect light or heavy smokers.

In his office, he sometimes sets the device to sound an alarm if the carbon monoxide level is higher than 10 percent, meaning that only the heaviest smokers should set it off. Patients wonder why the alarm goes off, and "we can tell them that 10 percent of their blood is poisoned with carbon monoxide. That gets them in a conversation about preventing lung disease even if they don't have it," he said.

Dr. Joseph DiFranza, a professor of family medicine at the University of Massachusetts, Worcester, who's familiar with Reddy's research, said the device could have potential as a smoker-detector, but "I would not recommend that doctors embrace it until it has been demonstrated to be effective in a randomized controlled trial."

Joel Killen of the Stanford Prevention Research Center said the study is interesting, but he added that another device, called a "smokerlyzer," also measures carbon monoxide in the breath and is "non-invasive, easy and inexpensive."

Reddy was slated to discuss the device Monday at the annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians in Chicago.

Also scheduled for the meeting was a study by researchers at the North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y., who report that smokers have different motivations for quitting depending in their age. According to their study, people over 65 are more influenced by their doctors and by stress from a health problem, while young people are influenced by the cost of cigarettes and a perception that smoking makes them stink.

Another smoking study scheduled for meeting, this time by a team at North Shore Medical Center in Salem, Mass., found that hypnosis was a better smoking-cessation technique than either nicotine replacement therapy or quitting "cold turkey."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
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