Lung cancer kills more people than any other cancer type, in the United States alone over one hundred and fifty thousand citizens died last year.
Further more, there were more than 200,000 new reported cases, say the American Cancer Society.
Certain chemicals found in the urine of smokers, it has been found, means that a person is eight and a half times more likely to develop the disease.
The study leader, Jian-Min Yuan, who is an associate professor of public health at the University of Minnesota, said that both NNAL and cotinine are independent factors of higher risk.
The first is a known carcinogen and the second is a byproduct of nicotine. They are both shown to be factors irrelevant of the amount of cigarettes smoked or of the length of time someone has been a smoker.
Over five hundred subjects were looked at over a ten year period. Yuan and his team studied metabolites by regular urine testing, during the research funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute. The smokers were divided between low, medium and high levels of the two chemicals.
The reason why cotinine and NNAL create a higher likelihood of lung cancer has still to be answered and Yuan believes that it will be many more years of research before routine urine tests done by a doctor will be taking place.
Being able to target more at risk groups should not stop campaigns and public lung cancer awareness committees which should still be focused on all smokers. However, knowledge is vital and if it saves lives then it can only be for the good of the people.