'Third-Hand' Smoke is Deadly: Expert

Monday, 03 Feb 2014 01:02 PM

By Nick Tate

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"Third-hand smoke" — the invisible remnant of tobacco smoke that clings to surfaces and even dust — has been linked to several adverse health effects in a new study published in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS ONE.
 
While the secondhand smoke can be seen wafting through the air, researchers from the University of California-Riverside noted third-hand smoke is a more hidden health threat, but concluded it can be just as deadly.
 
Editor's Note: Knowing these 5 cancer-causing signs is crucial to remaining cancer-free for life

That conclusion is based on new first-ever studies of the effects of third-hand smoke on laboratory mice, which the researchers said have important implications for people.
 
"We studied, on mice, the effects of third-hand smoke on several organ systems under conditions that simulated third-hand smoke exposure of humans," said Manuela Martins-Green, a professor of cell biology who led the study. "We found significant damage occurs in the liver and lung. Wounds in these mice took longer to heal. Further, these mice displayed hyperactivity."
 
Third-hand smoke, which contains strong carcinogens, is a potential health threat to children, spouses of smokers, and workers in environments where smoking is allowed, the researchers said. Contamination of the homes of smokers by third-hand smoke is high, both on surfaces and in dust, including children's bedrooms.
 
The UC team found that the mice exposed to third-hand smoke in the lab showed alterations in multiple organ systems and excreted levels of a tobacco-specific carcinogen similar to those found in children exposed to second-hand smoke.

In the liver, third-hand smoke was found to increase cholesterol levels and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a precursor to cirrhosis and cancer and a potential contributor to cardiovascular disease. In the lungs, third-hand smoke was found to increase risks tied to inflammation-induced diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. Mice exposed to third-hand smoke also showed signs of hyperactivity.
 
"There is a critical need for animal experiments to evaluate biological effects of exposure to third-hand smoke that will inform subsequent human epidemiological and clinical trials," Martins-Green said. "Such studies can determine potential human health risks, design of clinical trials and potentially can contribute to policies that lead to reduction in both exposure and disease."

Editor's Note: Knowing these 5 cancer-causing signs is crucial to remaining cancer-free for life

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