M. D. Anderson Launches New Study Measuring Bad Mood, Hereditary Tendency to Smoke and Tobacco Cessation
M. D. Anderson News Release 11/16/00
Paul Clark, a smoker, hasn't had a cigarette for 12 hours.
It's now 11 a.m. In his nicotine-deprived state, he steps into the Tobacco Research and Treatment laboratory at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and sits quietly as a research assistant attaches electrodes to his head and hands to measure his response to smoking- and non-smoking-related pictures. His laboratory visit also includes measuring the level of carbon monoxide in his lungs, and filling out questionnaires about his mood and anxiety level and genetic background.
A new study at M. D. Anderson, titled “Psychophysiological Examination of the Emotional Responses of Smokers," or PEERS, is measuring how smoking and nicotine withdrawal affect mood in smokers, some who may have inherited a susceptibility to nicotine addiction. The National Cancer Institute is funding the two-year, $260,000 study.
Clark comes from a family of smokers, which may indicate a hereditary predisposition to smoking, according to researchers.
"Understanding the relationship between genetic factors affecting mood and the effects of nicotine on mood may help us ultimately to develop more effective tobacco cessation programs," says Dr. Paul M. Cinciripini, director of the Tobacco Research and Treatment Program at M. D. Anderson and principal investigator of the study.
Previous research has shown a possible hereditary component to nicotine addiction, in that some smokers receive more pleasure from nicotine than others because of changes in the level of the brain chemical dopamine. For this reason, some smokers are able to quit "cold turkey," and others have a more difficult time quitting.
PEERS researchers are measuring exactly how nicotine withdrawal affects mood in smokers with and without a hereditary susceptibility to smoking.
Smokers who volunteer for the study view pleasurable, aversive and smoking-related pictures, including images of burn victims and sexual images, while their physical response to each is measured in a nicotine-deprived state.
"We record participants' physiologic responses to the pictures, including eye-blink, frown, smile and palm perspiration," Dr. Cinciripini says.
Study enrollment is open to smokers from 18 to 59 years old who smoke 10 or more cigarettes per day. Participants come to M. D. Anderson for five two-hour laboratory sessions.
Study volunteers receive $125 for participating, plus an additional $5 per session for arriving on time - up to $150.
Other tobacco cessation studies at M. D. Anderson currently enrolling volunteers include:
- Computer-assisted smoking cessation. Determining the effectiveness of combining several smoking cessation treatments (scheduled smoking, nicotine patches and use of a hand-held computer) to learn
which combination of treatments is best to help smokers kick the habit.
- Smoking cessation for community college students. Helping smokers better understand their level of nicotine dependence, heightening smokers' awareness of the dangers of tobacco and, ultimately, helping smokers plan the most effective method to quit.
- Project STOP. Testing the effectiveness of a new treatment program, including nicotine patch, self-help materials and counseling, to help smokers quit and stay off cigarettes forever.
For more information, or to enroll in any of these studies, call (713) 792-2265 or check the cancer prevention research website.