Saturday, November 18, 2006

Secondhand Smoke Speeds Lung Decline

(HealthDay News) -- A new study confirms that long-term exposure to secondhand smoke can cause respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath, in otherwise healthy adults.

The Swiss study tracked nearly 1,700 nonsmokers for 11 years. Researchers found a strong association between secondhand smoke and the development of cough.

It also found that, in patients with bronchial hyper-reactivity, there was a link between secondhand smoke and respiratory symptoms such as wheezing, chronic bronchitis, cough, and dyspnea (shortness of breath).

The researchers said that people with bronchial hyper-reactivity who are constantly exposed to secondhand smoke are particularly at risk for early-onset chronic respiratory disease.

"Symptom development in our subjects was accompanied by decrements in spirometric [lung-function] indices reflecting peripheral airway narrowing," wrote Margaret W. Gerbase, division of pulmonary medicine, University Hospitals of Geneva.

"Indirect evidence derived from smokers shows that airway responsiveness increased the risk to develop cough, phlegm, dyspnea and chronic bronchitis," she added.

On the other hand, "cessation of smoking leads to remission of symptoms and improvement in airway hyperactivity," she said.

The study is in the November issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

More information
The American Lung Association has more about secondhand smoke.

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