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Conference: A long and healthy life: The contribution of medical research to AU community health

CONFERENCE DATE AND VENUE: Tuesday 27 September 2005 at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, 1G Royal Parade, Parkville, Victoria.

Conference previews:
1. Childhood cancer link to smokers' sperm.
2. Ageing population can be a positive.

1. The 64,000 Australian smokers who will become fathers this year are exposing their children to vastly increased risks of leukaemias and other cancers, one of Australia's top experts in public health will tell the AAMRI conference in Parkville tomorrow.

Professor Stephen Leeder, from the University of Sydney, points out that the increased childhood cancer risks emerge not from passive smoking after a child's birth, but from genetic damage to the father's sperm caused by smoking.

Leeder quotes recent research conducted in China, which suggests that the duration of paternal smoking and the number of cigarettes smoked per day increases the risk of cancers in children.

Compared with children whose fathers had never smoked cigarettes, children whose fathers smoked more than five pack-years prior to their conception had a 1.7 times higher risk for all cancers combined. A breakdown of the cancer risk for children in the study showed that children had a 3.8 times higher risk for acute lymphocytic leukaemia, a 4.5 times higher risk for lymphoma and a 2.7 times higher risk for brain tumours.

Professor Leeder says, "The health chances of children are being set, even before conception, by the smoking behaviour of the father. For any man who intends to become a father, the message is simple, obvious and emphatic: if you smoke, you profoundly threaten the health of your future children. It's tragic enough that smoking is likely to kill one billion smokers worldwide this century. Now that we also know that smoking causes genetic damage to sperm, leading to huge increases in childhood cancer risks, the case against smoking is overwhelming. For the health
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Contact: Brad Allan
61-393-452-345
Research Australia
26-Sep-2005


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