Cat hair nicotine a biomarker for smoking-related diseases

19 January 2017

eline hair nicotine concentration could be used as a biomarker for tobacco smoke exposure to help future investigations into smoking-related diseases in the species.

The study, by Victoria Smith and colleagues from the University of Glasgow, was funded by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association’s (BSAVA) charity PetSavers. It has been published in this month’s (January) Journal of Small Animal Practice (JSAP) and is available now to read online.

Research reveals cat hair nicotine concentration (HNC) is strongly associated with owner-reported exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), and suggests using HNC as a biomarker could assess whether exposed cats have an increased risk of specific diseases.

Lead author Victoria Smith says: “Humans exposed to ETS have an increased risk of cardiovascular and pulmonary disease, in addition to many cancers, so the close physical relationships cats maintain with owners results in similar exposure to tobacco smoke and to contaminated skin and clothing.

“Less is known about the effects of ETS on cats but, as with people, some of the constituent chemicals are likely associated with disease development. Using HNC as a biomarker could allow accurate measurement and quantification of chemicals absorbed into or present on the body of a cat when exposed to (ETS), with uptake either inhalational, trans-dermal or via oral ingestion during grooming of contaminants on fur.”