Researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health claim that children regularly exposed to tobacco smoke at home are more likely to develop early emphysema in adulthood. The findings, published in the December 2009 American Journal of Epidemiology, suggest that the lungs may not recover completely from the effects of early-life exposures to tobacco smoke (ETS), the research team says.
The researchers studied CT scans of 1,781 non-smokers without clinical cardiovascular disease recruited from six communities in the United States, including northern Manhattan and the Bronx, New York. Those reporting childhood ETS exposure were somewhat younger, with an average age of 61; were more likely to be non- Hispanic white; and less likely to have been born outside the United States. These differences were statistically controlled in the analyses.
"We were able to detect a difference on CT scans between the lungs of participants who lived with a smoker as a child and those who did not," observed Gina Lovasi, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health. "Some known harmful effects of tobacco smoke are short term, and this new research suggests that effects of tobacco smoke on the lungs may also persist for decades."
Previous studies have found evidence that childhood ETS exposure affects perinatal and childhood health outcomes, and that adult exposure may affect adult respiratory health outcomes, including lung function and respiratory symptoms.
This population-based study, however, is the first to examine the association of childhood ETS with early emphysema by CT scan in nonsmokers. Approximately half of the participants had at least one regular cigarette smoker in their childhood home. Participants with more childhood ETS exposure had more emphysema-like lung pixels; an average of 20% of scan pixels were emphysema-like for those who lived with two or more smokers as a child, compared with 18% for those who lived with one regular smoker, or 17% for those who said that they did not live with a regular inside smoker as a child.
Although childhood ETS was not associated with adult lung function in this healthy population, this does not contradict the results for early emphysema, since airflow obstruction and anatomic damage are theoretically and clinically distinguishable. "However, emphysema may
be a more sensitive measure of damage compared with lung function in this relatively healthy cohort," Dr. Lovasi notes. Combined emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are projected to become the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2020.
The exposure information in this study does not provide information on the timing of ETS exposure during childhood, making it difficult to distinguish as exposure in utero. "The association between childhood ETS and early emphysema among participants whose mothers did not smoke, suggests that the effect we are detecting is for smoke exposure in the home during childhood rather than in utero exposure alone," observed Dr. Lovasi.
Citation: Gina S. Lovasi, Ana V. Diez Roux, Eric A. Hoffman, Steven M. Kawut, David R. Jacobs, Jr, R. Graham Barr, 'Association of Environmental Tobacco Smoke Exposure in Childhood With Early Emphysema in Adulthood Among Nonsmokers', American Journal of Epidemiology 2010 171(1):54-62; doi:10.1093/aje/kwp358
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Researchers Created A Laser Bullet To See What It Would Look Like - And Here It Is
- The Strange Organic Molecules In Titan's Atmosphere
- How Gut Bacteria Ensure A Healthy Brain – and Could Play A Role In Treating Depression
- Will Holding Thermal Printer Paper Really Send Your BPA Levels Soaring?
- The Quote Of The Week - Shocked And Disappointed
- As The Weather Changes, So Do Beliefs About Climate Change
- Moderate Pot Use By Adolescents Doesn't Hurt IQ
- "So the people most qualified to help are working for free at night? I doubt that. Anyway, you objected..."
- "I see. One must have an expensive Mac to be able to use the software for free...."
- "Also, why do you assume a person seeking coverage needs to take off work? People in need of assistance..."
- "According to this article, the report was not about the accuracy of the website. It was a survey..."
- "Well how about you make some logically reasonable statements. My post was simply pointing out the..."
- US Ebola hysteria and money pit highlight lack of resources to confront diseases that kill far more people
- Addiction can be measured by epigenetics
- Coffee grounds turned biofuel can heat your home
- Bill and Melinda Gates on GMOs: ‘Poor farmers should not be denied choice of life-saving tools’
- Why do foodies love organics? Because they taste like McDonald’s!
- GMO milk? An enviros dream innovation that most enviros oppose
- Synthetic biology on ordinary paper, results off the page
- A gut bacterium that attacks dengue and malaria pathogens and their mosquito vectors
- Highest altitude ice age human occupation documented in Peruvian Andes
- TSRI chemists achieve new technique with profound implications for drug development
- Gene identified for immune system reset after infection