In a new, researchers from MedUni Vienna and the Messerli Research Institute have identified the organic compound acrolein (acrylic aldehyde) as one of the main causes of failure of the immune defence to tumours due to passive smoking.
When people smoke, acrolein is released into the atmosphere via the so-called sidestream smoke.
It is toxic and damages genetic material. However, it also inhibits our natural immune response via the regulatory T cells, thus accelerating tumour growth.
Acrolein is also produced when vegetable or animal fats are overheated, for example during cooking or deep-frying.