Dec. 3, 2009 The study of tobacco has been the life-long focus of his research and now, Peter Shields, MD, deputy director of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University Medical Center, has led the effort to edit a special-edition of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention (CEBP) dedicated to best research practices in tobacco science from researchers the world over.
The December issue of CEBP, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, is designed to provide researchers with the critical tools to conduct research directed to assisting decision-makers, such as those at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with a comprehensive review of the most up-to-date research on tobacco use. The journal includes nine review articles by leading experts in the field and covers topics from clinical trail design to how to best assess toxicity levels in new tobacco products. Shields is lead investigator for a series of papers in the issue.
"The FDA will soon grapple with very challenging issues," Shields says. "It cannot ban tobacco entirely, and its policy makers will need to address a unique paradigm -- how to regulate and balance health risks with continued protection of an industry whose products harm and kill people when used as intended."
Shields says the special issue of CEBP will provide the FDA and those who serve on the FDA's tobacco advisory panel with a strong scientific context to move tobacco regulation forward.
"Still, it is evident that not much scientific data are available to support the type of tobacco regulation that we would like to have today which could lead to a substantial drop in the tobacco-related diseases and deaths," Shields explains. "Perhaps this lack of data will help drive more funding for this under-researched area. These papers identify the strengths, limitations and research gaps for a wide spectrum of tobacco research methods."
The reviews in CEBP will also help inform future research by describing some of the strategies that might be applied when assessing differences in product risk and harms. Additionally, the issue features several studies on lung cancer in minorities, risk for experimentation, the impact of popular culture and the effect of alternative products like herbal cigarettes.
Shields he has served as an expert witness on behalf of plaintiffs in tobacco-related litigation.
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