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Researcher links cigarettes, vitamin A and emphysema 

Jump to full article: ScienceBlog, 2004-07-26


While studying the relationship between vitamin A and lung inflammation, a Kansas State University researcher made a surprising discovery -- a link between vitamin A and emphysema in smokers. Richard Baybutt, associate professor of human nutrition, said his research could have a number of implications for smokers and the cigarette and health industries.

The discovery was accidental, Baybutt said, but the research project quickly shifted to investigate the link.

''We essentially weren't looking for it,'' he said. ''But we knew we had do this.''

According to Baybutt, his previous research had shown that rats fed a vitamin A-deficient diet developed emphysema, a lung disease found primarily in smokers. In his most recent research, Baybutt exposed a group of rats to cigarette smoke and found that those rats became vitamin A deficient. Benzopyrene, a common carcinogen found in cigarettes, is the link to the deficiency, Baybutt said. When fed to rats, benzopyrene induces vitamin A deficiency.

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