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Everyday Choices Can Influence Cancer Risk
Date:12/7/2007

mice developed more squamous cell skin cancers, and these tumors grew more quickly and aggressively than the same type of tumors on the skin of female mice.

The findings may help explain why men develop three times as many squamous cell skin cancers than women and why men are more prone to developing cancer in general, the researchers said.

"Men get more skin cancer than women, and it has classically been thought that the reason for this is lifestyle -- men spend more time outside and are less likely to use sun protection," Kathleen Tober, a research scientist in OSU's pathology department, said in a prepared statement. "Our data suggests that while that may be a factor, an even more critical reason for this difference is that female skin may be better able to combat the damaging effects of UV exposure."

"Based on our data, it would be a reasonable hypothesis that one of the underlying mechanisms for this is that men might have less overall antioxidant levels and diminished DNA repair capacity," Tober said.

A third study found that black Americans may have a more difficult time giving up smoking, because they have much lower levels of an enzyme (glucuronide) that metabolizes nicotine and nicotine byproducts than whites. This means that blacks may experience higher nicotine levels when smoking, which makes it more difficult for them to kick the habit.

"Smokers adjust their level of smoking to maintain blood levels of nicotine, which are determined in part by rates of nicotine metabolism, and, while we can't say from this study that differences in metabolism definitively account for lower quit rates (among blacks), it could very well have an impact," Jeannette Zinggeler Berg, an M.D./Ph.D. student in biochemistry, molecular biology, and biophysics at the University of Minnesota, said in a prepared statement.

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