Monday, February 10, 2014

The Result Of Smoking On Cea Levels

Smoking causes elevated levels of "tumor markers" in the body.

A high carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) reading during a blood test may indicate cancer or other conditions, such as colitis, cirrhosis or infection. Cigarette smokers have twice the levels of CEA protein---or "tumor markers"---in their serum as nonsmokers. A smoker may reduce or reverse elevated CEA levels by quitting smoking.

What Is a Carcinoembryonic Antigen?

An antigen is a substance that provokes a response in the immune system and can potentially cause disease. In 1965, Montreal physicians Dr. Phil Gold and Dr. Samuel Freedman discovered that certain types of tumors manufacture and secrete "tumor markers." They named this protein marker, "carcinoembryonic antigen."

Human Protein Marker Biology

Today, the science of human protein marker biology is used in the diagnosis and monitoring of certain types of cancer, as well as in some noncancerous tumors and diseases such as colitis, cirrhosis of the liver and pancreatitis. Inflammation or infection can also cause CEA levels to rise. A simple blood test can measure CEA values in blood serum.

The antigen is also normally found in the epithelial cells, which surround the tissues and organs of the body. CEA is present in the gastrointestinal tract of a fetus during the second and sixth months of development.

Carcinogenic Chemicals in Cigarette Smoke

The smoke from cigarettes and other tobacco products contains at least 4,000 chemicals, including formaldehyde, ammonia, carbon monoxide, nicotine, arsenic and hydrogen cyanide. At least 69 of the chemicals are carcinogens. These carcinogens have the ability to transform the epithelial cells found in the lungs and other organs into carcinomas or tumors.

The Correlation Between Tobacco Smoke and CEA Levels

A doctor can assist in lowering your CEA levels.

There is a correlation between smoking and elevated CEA levels. Smoking reduces the ability of the immune system to produce the antibodies needed to fight off antigens in the body. The normal median range of CEA in nonsmoking adults is approximately 2.5 nanograms per millileter in women and 3.4 nanograms per millileter in men. CEA levels double in smokers, increasing to a median of 4.9 nanograms per millileter in women, and 6.2 nanograms per millileter in men. Serum CEA levels rise with each cigarette smoked.

Expert Insight

Only a qualified physician can determine if you have higher-than-normal levels of CEA. Elevated levels may suggest the presence of disease, but the test is not full-proof. Individuals with small or less advanced tumors may show normal or modest CEA values.

CEA testing is used to monitor the success or progress of therapy in certain types of cancer, but it is not a definitive screening device. Additional diagnostic tests are required.

Discuss with your physician elevated CEA levels and options available to you to assist you in quitting smoking.

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