sealPurdue Lifestyles Briefs

September 1996

Study: Two-pronged effort can cut smoking deaths by 40%

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- School-based anti-smoking programs, complemented by similar programs in the community, can reduce premature smoking-related deaths by 40 percent, according to a computer simulation.

Purdue University's James G. Anderson and researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine predict those results based on a computer simulation model they developed to analyze the effectiveness of four types of smoking interventions for persons up to 25 years of age. The model projects how much each program would cut smoking-related deaths as the individuals aged. The researchers based the study on a population of about 80,000 youths and the current number of smoking-related deaths in various age groups.

The program must last at least a year to be effective, says Anderson, professor of medical sociology. "Basically, you want the anti-smoking push to come from more than one source. What you need is classroom education as well as community-awareness programs," he says.

The next most effective method was a school-based program that helps adolescents become aware of how cigarettes are marketed to them. It cut the rate of smoking-related deaths by 34 percent.

The least effective methods were brief counseling by physicians on the harmful effects of tobacco products, and active enforcement of tobacco laws to prevent the sale of cigarettes to minors. These two methods reduced deaths by 2.5 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

"Smoking-related death is one of the most preventable health problems," Anderson says. "If we can prevent young people from starting to smoke, or get them to stop smoking early, it will have a huge payoff in saving lives and cutting health care costs."

Approximately 18 percent of all health care costs in the United States are related to smoking, as is one in five deaths, Anderson says.

"Each year approximately one million teen-agers become nicotine-dependent cigarette smokers," he says. "For those who become regular smokers, about one-half will die prematurely of smoking-related diseases. A lot of people don't realize that people begin dying in their 30s from smoking-related diseases such as emphysema, asthma and cancer."

Ninety percent of smokers begin the habit before 25 years of age, with most of that group beginning between 15 and 19 years, Anderson says. By age 19, one-fifth of the population smokes.

The findings were presented at the conference Simulation in Medical Sciences, sponsored by the Society for Computer Simulation. The Indiana University School of Medicine funded the study.

CONTACT: Anderson, (765) 494-4703; Internet,

'Good' fat may be bad to the bone, study concludes

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Parents may have another bone to pick with fast foods, says a Purdue University food scientist whose research shows that eating too much of the polyunsaturated fat common in convenience and fast food may inhibit bone growth.

In work reported in the September 1996 issue of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, Professor Bruce A. Watkins compared the bone growth of chicks that got all their dietary fat from vegetable oil rich in n-6 polyunsaturated (n-6 PUFA) fat to bone growth of chicks fed a combination of fish oil (rich in n-3 polyunsaturates) and vegetable oil. Chick bones built with a combination of fats grew faster than bones of chicks fed diets in which the fat came from vegetable oil alone.

Earlier work by Watkins showed that combining saturated fat with vegetable fat in chicks' diets led to faster bone growth than did vegetable fat alone. It's apparently the overabundance of n-6 PUFA that gets bones in trouble.

Watkins stresses that researchers can't directly extrapolate results of work done with animals to humans. But he notes that statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicate that, compared to a typical American diet in the 1960s, the '90s American diet is richer in n-6 PUFA.

When heart disease studies in the '50s painted saturated fat as a villain, food processors began switching from saturated, animal fat to polyunsaturated vegetable oil in many baked and processed foods, Watkins says. Because of that switch, the percentage of our total fat intake that comes from n-6 PUFA has risen dramatically.

"If we eat only convenience food, fast food or snack food and avoid meat, dairy products, and fresh vegetables or fruits, we're getting a large percentage of our fat from n-6 PUFA," Watkins says. "And while no particular food is bad in itself, my research suggests that eating foods rich in n-6 PUFA exclusively or in great abundance could be bad for bones. This is another vote for a balanced diet."

His work has won Watkins a USDA grant to continue studying the effects of fat on human nutrition for optimal health. Because his work supports other findings that saturated fat intake is associated with greater bone density in children, it also has caught the interest of companies that produce infant formulas.

CONTACT: Watkins (765) 494-5802; e-mail,

To receive the full text of a news release about Watkins' research, send an e-mail message to that says "send punews 9608f36"

Owner education could save unwanted pets

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A black and white photo is available Glickman holding a dog. Ask for the photo called Glickman/Dog or download here.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Of the nearly two million dogs brought to animal shelters by their owners each year, up to two-thirds might still be living at home if their owners took the pets to obedience classes or visited the veterinarian more often, according a Purdue University study.

An additional one-third of the dogs might still be pets if their owners had sterilized them or had realistic expectations about the pet's behavior.

"Dogs that had not been in obedience classes were about 3.5 times more likely to be relinquished to a shelter," says Dr. Lawrence T. Glickman, professor of veterinary epidemiology and environmental health and one of the study's authors. "Dogs that hadn't been to the veterinarian at all were about 13 times more likely to be given up than dogs that had been at least twice. Veterinary care and obedience classes may increase the owner's bonding to the dog."

The study compared 285 owners who had given up their dogs with 748 who still had dogs. About half of the 4 million total dogs that end up in shelters each year are euthanized.

The study also found that only about one-fourth of the survey households that sought veterinary care said the doctor routinely offered advice on behavior or training.

"Visiting a veterinarian is a chance for the owner to learn what's normal and abnormal behavior and thus be more tolerant of the pet," Glickman says. "It's pretty clear from the study that increased education and outreach efforts by veterinarians, dog clubs and other animal-welfare groups could substantially reduce the number of dogs handled annually by shelters."

The researchers also did a parallel study on common factors among owners who gave up their cats for adoption. Among the findings: A cat kept outside rather than as a house pet was nearly three times more likely to end up in a shelter, and unsterilized cats were 2.5 times more likely to be relinquished. Approximately 6 million cats (pets and strays) are brought to shelters each year, with about two-thirds being euthanized.

CONTACT: Glickman, (765) 494-6301; e-mail,

To receive the full text of a news release about the pet research, send an e-mail message to that says "send punews 9608f12"

Photo Caption
Two-thirds of the dogs left at animal shelters by their owners each year might still be at home if they had been taken to obedience classes or visited the veterinarian more often, says Lawrence Glickman, Purdue professor of veterinary epidemiology and environmental health. (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)

Women in high-tech jobs point to gains

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Many women in scientific and technical fields are fairly content with their work and say they have made gains in the workplace since they began employment, according to a Purdue University study.

"A lot of the women in the study were older and have already fought their way through quite a bit, such as sexual harassment and the 'glass ceiling,'" says Carolyn Boiarsky, assistant professor of English at Purdue Calumet in Hammond. "Many feel they have made tremendous gains since they began working, and today they're fairly happy with their jobs."

Boiarsky, who teaches business and technical writing, conducted the study with five other women members of the International Professional Communication Society, part of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.

The majority of the women who responded to the latest survey were in their 30s and 40s with a college degree, had been in the labor force more than 10 years, were married, and earned $20,000 to $40,000 annually. Among the survey findings:

Surveys were sent to participants in an earlier study Boiarsky did on women in high-tech fields. The recipients, from more than 20 states, were asked to copy and distribute the questionnaires to other women in technical and scientific areas. A total of 295 women returned the questionnaire.

Boiarsky's study was published in the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers Transactions on Professional Communication.

CONTACT: Boiarsky, (219) 989-2207; Internet,

Compiled by Beth Forbes, (765) 494-9723, e-mail,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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