WUFT News

UF researchers explore cigarettes and “good” cholesterol

By on September 5th, 2012

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Researchers at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville have recently found a link between a toxic compound found in smoke, benzopyrene, and the manufacturing of cholesterol.

Benzopyrene, which exists in cigarette smoke and forest fire smoke, slows the production of the “good” cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL cholesterol is known to help fight heart disease.

“What we’ve discovered was that this receptor system reduces the expression of a protein that is critical for making HDL, the good cholesterol,” said Michael Haas, a research associate professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville. “It decreases its expression and so the body cannot make as much HDL.”

Benzopyrene is part of a family of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, he said.

Haas, who co-authored the study that was released this July in a journal, said there is still research to be done. He would like to be able to continue with research involving humans, instead of cell culture.

Eventually, the team could quantify what levels of benzopyrene cause an effect on the body. He would also like to see how the chemical is metabolized.

Concerns for nonsmokers — secondhand smoke and forest fires, an environmental event that Gainesville experienced last January and February — are also present.

Florida and Georgia, in particular, have peat and bog fires that prove especially difficult to put out. Haas said the smoke from these fires is especially rich with benzopyrene and other like chemicals.

“People who are exposed to forest fire smoke, secondhand smoke or, for example, people working in bars and facilities where smoking is allowed or households where smoking occurs inside would be exposed to [benzopyrene],” he said, though levels depend on the time and amount of exposure to smoke.

“People who smoke for 20 or 30 years would have a much higher risk than someone who is exposed to forest fires,” Haas said. “Chronic exposure is what’s important in this case.”

In the future, Haas would ideally like to study the effects of the cigarette smoke on mice that produce human HDL cholesterol. He said firefighters, who are exposed almost continuously to forest fire smoke, could also be a test group.

Epidemiological studies, however, can often prove difficult because it is hard to measure how much people were actually exposed to the smoke.

“I am very anxious to follow up on the study,” Haas said. “I hope to obtain funding for follow-up work, especially a translational work to humans.”

Kelsey Meany edited this story online.


This entry was posted in Health and Science and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Health and Science

Taylor Dole, 23, bakes chocolate chai biscotti to distract her nerves the day before her thesis defense.

University Of Florida Services Offer Help For Anxiety

A growing number of college students deal with anxiety that impacts their daily life. School and social stressors cause many to struggle, but counseling, mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy can help.


The completed henna design on Lilia Lima's head is entirely free-handed by artist and pre-med student Jeena Karr. Safe, beautiful and fresh, the art gives cancer patients like Lima a new way to feel beautiful.

Henna Artist Gives Cancer Patients Crowns Of Beauty

A University of Florida student combines faith and spirituality with the ancient art of henna to comfort cancer patients. Jeena Kar uses henna paste made from the flowering plant, Lawsonia inermis, to create intricate designs on the heads of those who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy.


IMG_4480

UF Health Plans For Future

UF Health’s five-year strategic plan “The Power of Together” will connect the healthcare community in order to provide quality patient care and improve academic research and interdisciplinary education efforts.


Gov. Rick Scott’s Hospital Commission To Meet For First Time

Gov. Rick Scott wants the federal government to extend hospital funds .The panel, which met for the first time Wednesday, is beginning its work as the governor becomes increasingly antagonistic toward hospitals that receive taxpayer funds.


Congressional Hearing Planned On Lip Showdown

A congressional committee will hold a hearing on Gov. Rick Scott’s showdown with the federal government over health-care funding. However, that meeting could come too late to help close a potential $2.2 billion hole in the state budget.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments