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Salivary Thiocyanate in Smokers

Gary D. Steinman, MD, PhD
JAMA. 1985;254(10):1312. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360100060013.
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To the Editor.—  Letters in the March 8 issue of JAMA debate the value of salivary thiocyanate measurement in distinguishing smokers from non-smokers.1 Prior studies have indeed concentrated on making this differentiation rather than on correlating the thiocyanate level in particular cases to the quantity of cigarettes smoked.2-4 However, these studies do point out that a much clearer statistical distinction is seen between groups of smokers and nonsmokers when saliva rather than other biologic fluids is used for thiocyanate measurements. The salivary glands appear to concentrate thiocyanate more than other organs.Using Smoke-Screen, a semiquantitative color test on saliva (David Diagnostics, Inc, Astoria, NY), where the threshold level is set at 0.500 mmole/L, we related a positive or negative response (ie, above or below the threshold level, respectively) to the number and brands of cigarettes smoked. With but one exception in 100 randomly selected individuals tested, we found


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