Although trace amounts of metals (such as iron) are necessary for the body's normal functions, prolonged exposure to trace elements including arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, nickel and vanadium has been linked to several types of cancer including lung cancer. These trace elements are known to promote carcinogenesis by increasing oxidative stress, inflammation and DNA damage, and reduced DNA repair efficiency.
There are several potential sources for trace element exposure in southeastern Kentucky. Residents could be exposed through their water source, their soil, the local food sources they eat, or in other unknown ways.
Arnold says her study will define age- and gender-matched cancerous and non-cancerous residents. Each participant will be asked to fill out a questionnaire about his or her smoking habits. Researchers will determine the amount of exposure to trace elements by taking samples of residents' toenails, hair, urine and blood. To determine the source of the exposure, they'll also collect samples of water and soil from the home. The biological and environmental samples generated from this study will also be made available to other researchers to use for other studies on health in Appalachia.
This project is also partnering with Kentucky Homeplace, an advocacy organization known and trusted throughout southeastern Kentucky. The organization provides access to medical, social, and environmental services for the citizens of the Commonwealth.
"We are extremely lucky to have this outstanding organization helping with this important initiative," Arnold said. "They will play a crucial role in helping us collect our data."
Arnold also spearheads the Marty Driesler 5th District Cancer Project, a rural health care initiative dedicated to increasing the survival rates for people with
|Contact: Allison Perry|
University of Kentucky