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SecondHand Smoke May be Much More Harmful than Previously Thought

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Chronic Rhinosinusitis CRS

Chronic Rhinosinusitis (CRS) is a common and often debilitating form of sinusitis that includes a group of disorders characterized by inflammation of the mucosa of the nose and paranasal sinuses of at least 12 weeks duration. The group of CRS disorders annually accounts as many as 22 million office visits and more than 500,000 emergency department visits in the U.S., according to some estimates. According to some estimates annual CRS-related healthcare expenditures may reach as much as $3.5 billion. 

The Potential Effects of Secondhand Smoke

An estimated 126 million non-smokers, or 60 percent of all U.S. non-smokers, are exposed to secondhand smoke, making it a major public health problem.

Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 substances, including more than 50 that are either known or suspected to cause cancer. Evidence suggests secondhand smoke is associated with a wide variety of diseases in adults and children, including sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, middle ear disease, asthma, coronary heart disease and lung cancer and sinus cancers.

Secondhand Smoke Health Study

C. Martin Tammemagi, D.V.M., M.Sc., Ph.D., of Brock University, St. Catharine’s, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues studied 306 non-smoking patients diagnosed as having chronic rhinosinusitis (inflammation of the nose or sinuses lasting 12 weeks or longer). Their exposure to secondhand smoke at home, work, in public places and at private social functions during the five years before diagnosis was compared with that of 306 individuals who were the same age, sex and race but did not have rhinosinusitis.

Patients with chronic rhinosinusitis were more likely than control patients to have exposure to secondhand smoke at home (13.4 percent vs. 9.1 percent), at work (18.6 percent vs. 6.9 percent), in public places (90.2 percent vs. 84.3 percent) and at private social functions (51.3 percent vs. 27.8 percent). A dose-response relationship was observed, in which individuals who were exposed to secondhand smoke in more of the four venues had an increased risk of chronic rhinosinusitis. Overall, approximately 40 percent of chronic rhinosinusitis cases appeared to be attributable to secondhand smoke.

Mechanisms explaining the connection are not certain, but several possibilities exist, according to the report. Secondhand smoke exposure may increase susceptibility to or worsen respiratory infections, inhibit immune responses and increase the permeability of cells lining the respiratory tract.

“Even though more evidence is needed to validate the secondhand smoke-chronic rhinosinusitis association, secondhand smoke is already known to cause many other diseases,” the authors conclude. “Thus, there is already ample reason for taking action to eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that physicians routinely ask their patients about secondhand smoke exposure.”

“On the basis of our findings, physicians should recommend that patients who are susceptible to chronic rhinosinusitis or who have chronic rhinosinusitis avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. The dose-response relationship between secondhand smoke and chronic rhinosinusitis indicates that even modest levels of exposure carry some risk.”

Source: Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2010;136[4]:327-334.
Last modified on Wednesday, 07 September 2011 13:33
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