This Week in Research: Healing Smokers’ Lungs, Mixed Race Segregation

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Okay, so you should still quit smoking… but if you absolutely refuse, here’s some good news for you:  Johns Hopkins researchers have found a drug that may work to shield the lungs from damage caused by smoking. The drug, Iosartan (brand name Cozaar), which is commonly used to treat hypertension, “improved or prevented lung tissue breakdown, airway wall thickening, inflammation, and lung overexpansion associated with two months of exposure to cigarette smoke” — in mice. That’s not to say that it’ll necessarily prevent the most serious consequences of smoking in humans, but it’s a decent bet.  The medicine’s reparative effects could help with symptoms like shortness of breath, coughing, and mucus production. It’s also already been approved by the FDA; expect more tests of its possible human effectiveness shortly.

The U.S. Census provides sociologists with lots of juicy data to parse, which is exactly what Hopkins prof Pamela Bennett has done. Drawing conclusions from where people call home (a decent approximation for social status), Bennett concludes that in terms of social hierarchy, mixed-race Americans rank below whites but above blacks.  She also found that segregation is lower among people with both black and white heritage, compared to those with fully black ancestry; in contrast, people of Asian-white or American Indian-white heritage show higher markers of segregation. “While some scholars and activists view official recognition of multiracial identities as a movement toward the deconstruction of race, I caution against such an optimistic narrative for now,” Bennett says.



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