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From Second Hand Smoke
Just half an hour of
second hand smoke can impair normal blood flow to the heart, a Japanese study suggests.
The study examined the effects of spending 30 minutes in a hospital's smoking room on 15
non smoking men and 15 smokers. The smokers, whose heart arteries already showed damage,
were not affected. But in non-smokers, the result was a reduced ability of heart arteries
to dilate, which previous research has suggested may be a precursor to hardening of the
"This change may be
one reason why passive smoking is a risk factor for cardiac disease" and related
deaths in non-smokers, the researchers said in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical
If exposure continues, "gradually, as
hardening of the arteries sets in, it's irreversible, " he said. The study
"really sort of confirms prior information that we've had about the adverse effects
of second hand smoke," Faxon said.
The study did not examine whether the changes from the one-time exposure to smoke were
permanent. Previous research in smokers has found similar changes that may be reversible
if smokers quit, said Dr. David Faxon, president of the American Heart Association.
In the study, Dr. Ryo Otsuka of Osaka City University Medical School and colleagues used
blood pressure tests and an imaging technique called echocardiography to examine the
effect on heart arteries' ability to dilate. Measurements were taken before and after
exposure to second hand smoke.
The smoke appeared to impair the
functioning of the endothelium, a lining of cells in the arteries that helps regulate
dilation. Scientists believe coronary artery disease may begin when the endothelium
becomes damaged, leaving the arteries prone to blockages or narrowing. Stanton Glantz, a
University of California at San Francisco professor of medicine, said the findings add
fuel to the debate over second hand smoke.
"People walking into a smoky restaurant, do they want to be clobbering the ability of
the arteries in the heart to get blood to the heart, even if it's just for a little
while?" he said.
Seth Moskowitz, spokesman for R.J.
Reynolds Tobacco Co., said the study does not change the company's belief that there is no
scientific evidence establishing that second hand smoke is a risk factor for lung cancer,
heart disease or any other disease in adult non-smokers.
The Proven Facts on The
Damages of Secondhand Smoke
- Second-hand smoke causes disease and death in healthy
- Exposure for as little as 8 to 20 minutes causes physical
reactions linked to heart and stroke disease:
- The heart rate increases
- The heart's oxygen supply decreases
- Blood vessels constrict which increases blood pressure and
makes the heart work harder.
- The health effects on children exposed to second-hand smoke
include Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and breathing problems in children as young as
18 months of age.
- Children exposed to second-hand smoke in their homes are
more likely to suffer breathing problems such as asthma and damage to their lungs.
Children are twice as likely to smoke if their parents are smokers.
- If you are a non-smoker, exposure to second-hand smoke
increases your chance of lung cancer by 25 per cent, heart disease by 10 per cent, and
cancer of the sinuses, brain, breast, uterine, cervix, thyroid, as well as leukemia and
- Although only three in ten people report being exposed to
second-hand smoke, nine in ten people have detectable levels in their bodies. The test
measures exposure that has occurred over the last three days.
- Second-hand smoke is a major source of indoor air pollution,
and the greatest source of air particle pollution.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the
risk of developing cancer from exposure to second-hand smoke is about 57 times greater
than the total risk posed by all outdoor air contaminants regulated under U.S.
- More than three times as many infants die from second-hand
smoke-related Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) as from child abuse or homicide.
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