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Exposing the silent killer

Conquest - Spring 2013

Intervention brings awareness to second-hand smoke exposure in households


By Katrina Burton

Exposure to second-hand smoke (SHS) is associated with a 20% to 30% increased risk of developing lung cancer. When smokers light up a cigarette, they release at least 250 toxic chemicals into the air, exposing everyone around them to the dangers of smoking.

Alexander Prokhorov, M.D., Ph.D.
Photo: Adolfo Chavez III

Alexander Prokhorov, M.D., Ph.D., professor in MD Anderson’s Department of Behavioral Science, is working to prevent smoking and tobacco use in youth and other population groups, including Mexican-Americans. More than 28% of Mexican-Americans are exposed to SHS and smokers subject multigenerational family members to their smoking habits at home.

Results of an intervention study, designed to promote smoke-free indoor air policies in Mexican-American households, were published in the August 2012 edition of the journal Addictive Behaviors.

CASA (Clean Air-Safe Air) addressed SHS using two fotonovelas (illustrated storybooks) and a comic book designed for children and adults. Fotonovelas — a culturally sensitive informational tool — helped significantly increase awareness of the dangers of smoking to this population group.

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