Putting smokers' oxidative stress levels under the microscope

Published 25 July 2012

Quilla Watt
Humans need oxygen to live, but high concentrations of oxygen can be corrosive and toxic.

Smokers, in particular, are susceptible to higher levels of oxidative stress because of the free radicals and other oxidants found in cigarette smoke.

A new study investigating the effectiveness of live blood analysis (LBA) as a tool to measure oxidative stress is being conducted at Southern Cross University and smokers are being invited to take part.

The trial is led by Bachelor of Naturopathy Honour’s student Quilla Watt from the School of Health and Human Sciences.

“Oxidative stress occurs when there are more oxidative molecules causing damage than your antioxidant defences can cope with,” she said.

LBA uses a microscope to assess size and shape of red and white blood cells.

“My study is attempting to determine whether LBA is a valid tool in screening for oxidative stress,” said Ms Watt.

“Oxidative stress has been found to increase people’s predisposition to chronic health issues.”

Volunteers are eligible to participate in the study if they are 18 years or older, smoke 10 or more cigarettes per day, have not taken supplements on a regular basis in the past three months and can travel to Lismore.

The screening process is completed in a single appointment at the University’s Lismore campus and takes no more than 30 minutes.

Participants will provide a few drops of blood gathered from a simple finger prick for the LBA screening and a urine sample for pathology tests. Both samples will be used to test for oxidative stress.

“The study will provide smokers with an opportunity to learn more about their oxidative stress levels and potentially help validate LBA as a screening tool,” Ms Watt said.

To take part in this study contact Quilla Watt at q.watt.10@student.scu.edu.au or telephone 0406 164 093.

This research has been approved by the Southern Cross University Human Research Ethics Committee, approval number ECN-12-122.
Photo: Honours student Quilla Watts.

Media contact: Sharlene King media officer, Southern Cross University Lismore, 02 6620 3508 or 0429 661 349.