Research has shown that smoking is strongly linked to lung cancer, but a new discovery may help scientists improve treatments for lung disease
in the future.
Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute (OHSU) researchers
have pinpointed a protein that can lead to genetic changes that cause
lung cancer. They
discovered that the production of a protein called FANCD2 is slowed
when lung cells are exposed to cigarette smoke and the protective effect is lost. Low levels of FANCD2
leads to DNA damage, triggering cancer. Cigarette smoke curbs the
production of ‘caretaker’ proteins, such as FANCD2, which normally prevent
cancer by fixing damage in DNA and causing faulty cells to commit
FANCD2 is part of a family of proteins involved in an inherited
condition called Fanconi anemia. People with the condition are more
likely to develop cancers at a young age and have low levels of these
This interesting piece of science adds to our understanding of why
smoking is so deadly. Smoking is the single biggest preventable cause
of cancer and causes nine out of 10 cases of lung cancer, one of the most common forms of cancer globally, with over a million deaths annually.