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How much do you smoke? Spit it out.

How much do you smoke? Spit it out

Saliva levels of cotinine--a long-lasting metabolite ofnicotine--provide a sensitive monitor of a person's recent smoking history, report researchers at Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I. According to David B. Abrams, who directed the studies, saliva continine not only provides long-lasting evidence of smoking, but also is sensitive enough to reveal minor "cheaters'--those who claim to have abstained but in fact smoked one or two cigarettes.

In a pair of studies, Abrams and his colleagues tested 189individuals: 30 who had not smoked for at least a year and 159 who were enrolled in smoking-cessation programs. Each subject provided two 1-milliliter samples of saliva for radioimmunoassay analysis. (This analysis uses reactions between rabbit antisera and the saliva to measure cotinine.)

Writing in the July AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH, theresearchers report that saliva cotinine provided "perfect classification of smokers versus nonsmokers.' Moreover, Abrams told SCIENCE NEWS, among persons who smoked from zero to 20 cigarettes, "there's a fairly decent linear relationship --the more cigarettes smoked, the more cotinine [measured].' Among heavier smokers, however, this correlation blurs-- saliva-cotinine tends to plateau at a certain level, above which any increase is not measurable.

Until recently, serum-cotinine levels have been the "goldstandard' for reliably and quantifiably confirming past-smoking status, Abrams notes. However, these tests require the drawing of blood and are unreliable for identifying those who smoked more than about two days earlier. By contrast, the new saliva tests are noninvasive and provide a smoking history that goes back at least seven days--the longest period available.
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Title Annotation:saliva levels of cotinine used to monitor smoking
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 11, 1987
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