Researchers at Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School aim to find the link between smoking and a serious and sometimes a fatal problem with one of the body's main arteries, thanks to a Pounds 15,000 grant from the British Heart Foundation.
The project will look for high levels of cadmium, a toxic component of cigarette smoke, in tissue samples from patients with a condition know as abdominal aortic aneurism (AAA).
Once an aneurism has developed there is a risk that it can burst with fatal consequences. Around 5 per cent of men over 65 are thought to be affected. Higher levels of cadmium in tissues of smokers with AAA would help confirm the researchers' theory that cadmium interferes with the healthy functioning of the cells in the walls of the aorta, which might in turn cause an aneurism to develop.