Studies to Focus On Lifestyle And Incidence of Lung Cancer And Heart Disease

By Lois Baker

Release Date: February 28, 1996 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Researchers in the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences will begin two major studies in March designed to provide greater insight into why some people get lung cancer or heart disease and others don’t.

The studies, which will run for five years, are funded for a total of $4 million by the National Institutes of Health.

The investigators will contact a random sample of healthy residents from Erie and Niagara counties to create a 3,800-person control group to serve both studies. Information gathered from the control group will be compared in a variety of ways with data collected from 1,200 people with newly diagnosed lung cancer and 1,000 people with newly diagnosed cardiovascular disease.

The comparisons could yield important information on how interrelationships between diet, alcohol consumption, smoking, exercise, occupation and other factors could increase the risk of developing these two chronic diseases, or protect against them.

“We will be looking at how the different pieces fit together,” said Jo Freudenheim, Ph.D., UB associate professor of social and preventive medicine and project director of the lung cancer study. Maurizio Trevisan, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, is project director of the cardiovascular study.

Freudenheim said researchers still have a lot to learn about lung cancer. “There is no question that cigarette smoking is the biggest risk factor. But there are people who don’t smoke who still get lung cancer, and there are people who have smoked all their lives who don’t. We’re hoping to find out why.

“We also will be looking closely at women and African Americans, groups that haven’t been studied closely,” she stated. “There is some evidence that African Americans develop cancer with lower rates of smoking than other groups.”

Trevisan said the cardiovascular disease study will attempt to define the differences in lifestyle factors between those who get heart disease and those who don’t, and to determine factors that might predict a second episode.