An individual's lifestyle could be predicted from his blood samples for a new study carried out at Umea University. Blood-based biomarkers were used to detect the disease, tobacco habits or cancer. 

People who use moist snuff 'snus' have significantly higher levels of the cornulin protein in their blood than non-snusers. This unknown relationship was found in a new study from Umea University, Sweden. If higher levels per se the risk of disease has increased, however, not yet been clarified.

"It's Important to know about this type of association if you want to use blood-based markers for disease. For some markers, acceptable limits Might Have to be individualized, since lifestyle factors Could influence background levels," says Robin Myte, a doctoral student at Umeå University.

Scientists at Umea University investigated whether a person's lifestyle could be reflected in the blood levels of 160 different proteins. The study was based on blood samples and lifestyle data collected during health examinations in the Västerbotten Intervention Program in northern Sweden.

It is now possible to measure the levels of hundreds of proteins in less than a drop of blood. The scientists hope that one or more of the proteins included in the study might be used to detect and predict diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer.

Previous studies have shown that smoking habits, physical activity, and alcohol consumption, and probably also the protein composition in the blood. But the relationships among them were largely unknown.

For each of the 138 participants in the study, two blood samples, collected ten years apart, were analyzed. Several proteins were linked to different lifestyle behaviors. The strongest finding was that snusers had significantly higher levels of the protein cornulin compared to non-snusers.

Swedish snus , also called moist snuff, was a finely ground, moistened smokeless tobacco product, placed in a lump or tea-bag-like portion between the lip and the gum.

Cornulin is a protein that is produced mainly in the mouth and throat by cells exposed to external stress. The newly discovered relationship between snus and cornulin levels was completely independent of whether or not the participants were smokers.

The association was also confirmed in another study, through collaboration with researchers from Uppsala University. The consistent results increase the reliability of the finding. On the other hand, it is still unclear if the higher levels of the disease are linked to an increased risk of disease.

"Protein markers are an exciting tool for diagnosis and early detection of diseases , but protein levels may vary due to many different factors." That's why we're looking at some of the 'normal' variations in protein levels in our study, "says Robin Myte