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M. D. Anderson Teams with Houston Area Community Colleges to Launch New Tobacco Cessation Study

M. D. Anderson Teams with Houston Area Community Colleges to Launch New Tobacco Cessation Study
M. D. Anderson News Release 10/24/00

Community college students in the greater Houston area now have access to a new tobacco cessation study sponsored by The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Researchers for the study are enrolling students at 14 area community college campuses to determine ways to heighten an individual's awareness of the dangers of tobacco - and ultimately, lead to helping smokers to quit.

"We want to help smokers better understand their level of dependence on nicotine so that they can plan the most effective method of kicking the habit," Dr. Alexander Prokhorov, principal investigator and associate professor of behavioral science at M. D. Anderson.

The National Cancer Institute is funding the $1,588,268 three-year study, titled "Look at Your Health."

Nicotine is a powerful and addictive stimulant drug that dramatically affects mood and behavior, Dr. Prokhorov says. Nicotine has been compared with cocaine and heroin in its capacity to addict, and studies have shown that tobacco use is not a habit, but an addiction.

"Withdrawal symptoms may include feeling depressed, irritable, fatigued, difficulty sleeping, increased hunger," Dr. Prokhorov says. Additionally, the psychological aspect of nicotine addiction lingers long after the physical addiction has faded.

During the study, the lung age and carbon monoxide level of some of the participants is measured, then compared to that of non-smokers. Participants also exhale into a spirometer to measure lung age and function.

"A 26-year-old smoker can have lungs that appear 61 years old," Dr. Prokhorov says.

"When our skin ages, we see wrinkles, but when our internal organs age, we often can't tell - and nicotine dramatically ages the lungs," he says.

The researchers also are examining exposure to carbon monoxide - an odorless, colorless, and highly poisonous gas found in cigarette smoke. Firefighters may be exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide because they inhale smoke from burning buildings, according to Dr. Prokhorov. The level for smokers can be equally high from inhaling cigarette smoke.

To be eligible for the study, individuals must be current smokers, age 18 to 35, enrolled in at least one class at a participating campus and be interested in learning more about the process of quitting. Four sessions are held on campus over a 10-month period, and participants who attend all four sessions will receive $100.

For more information about the Houston area community college study, call (713) 745-2388 or check the website at For information about ongoing tobacco cessation studies and the Tobacco Cessation Clinic, call (713) 792-2265 or check the website.


© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center