secondhand smoke

  1. Secondhand smoke can damage arteries in children

    Another reason to quit smoking

    Do it for the kids.

    If you won't quit smoking for yourself, do it for your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren -- the ones around you now, and the ones who may be yet to come. Smoking and secondhand smoke may be more dangerous than you think.

    Smoking won't just shorten your life and deprive these children of precious time with a beloved relative.

    It can also have a direct and damaging effect on their health, too.

    It's the notorious secondhand smoke, and I'm sure you've already heard plenty about the risks to everyone around you, from family members in your home to strangers at the bus stop.

    Now, new research confirms that this secondhand smoke is especially damaging to children.

    And the more they're exposed, the higher the risks.

    Children in homes where both parents smoke have thicker arteries. By the time they reach adulthood, their carotid intima-media thickness is 0.015 millimeters thicker than that of kids in homes where parents don't smoke.

    This may not sound like a very big number. It's less than the width of a human hair.

    But it's real damage -- equivalent to 3.3 extra years of aging -- and it's the type of damage that can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke years later.

    Even worse, it's permanent damage.

    The effect was only seen in kids who live in homes where both parents smoke. But don't be fooled; even if only one person smokes in your home -- even if there's a child in your life that doesn't live with you but visits -- secondhand smoke can do real and lasting harm.

    There are more than 250 damaging compounds in each puff, including 50 known carcinogens.

    In addition, kids who grow up with smokers are more likely to smoke later and more likely to have other bad habits. They're also more likely to be obese, according to the study in the European Heart Journal.

    So if you smoke or have a loved one who smokes, don't delay. Quit.

    And if you need some help kicking the habit, I recommend proven natural drug-free therapies such as acupuncture and hypnosis.

  2. A little tobacco... a lot of risk

    There's no such thing as a healthy smoking habit--and if you think a quick puff every now and then won't hurt you, it's time to get your head out of those tobacco clouds.

    A new study finds that even limited smoke exposure can be harmful--causing the genetic changes that can lead to serious and even deadly long-term health problems.

    And that means trouble, not just for "social smokers," but for anyone who has to venture through clouds of secondhand smoke.

    Researchers measured nicotine levels in 121 people, and then divided them into three groups: nonsmokers, low- exposure smokers, or active smokers. Then, they took cell samples from the airways--sensitive areas most affected by smoking and exposure to tobacco.

    Using those samples, the researchers scanned each person's entire genome. Essentially, that means they were able to see how the genes changed as a result of smoke exposure.

    They found that there are about 370 genes that react to the smoke, and those reactions are the cellular equivalent of panic and chaos: genetic changes and abnormalities at nearly any level of exposure.

    The researchers said these genetic changes are like the proverbial "canary in a coal mine," a warning from the body that something very wrong is taking place.

    "The canary is chirping for low-level exposure patients, and screaming for active smokers," Dr. Ronald Crystal, senior author of the study, said in a news release.

    He didn't mention that the canary eventually drops dead, but that's what's coming--because it doesn't take a new study like this one to find drawbacks to smoking.

    In addition to the risk of cancer, emphysema, and heart disease, smoking has been linked to everything from depression to impotence. One recent study even found that smokers are less intelligent than nonsmokers.

    There's a reason even the most hardcore smokers are usually trying to quit. But the new study shows you don't have to be a pack-a-day puffer to face those risks--they can also come from a supposedly moderate tobacco habit, whether it's the so-called social smoking or even just an occasional butt with a coworker as an excuse to get out of the office for 10 minutes.

    And if the new study is accurate, you might even want to hold your breath if you have to walk past those smoking colleagues crowded around building entrances.

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