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Dangers of Third-Hand Smoke

Researchers from the University of California-Riverside have shown that mice exposed to third-hand smoke suffered liver damage to cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease that markedly increases risk for diabetes, cancer and heart attacks. The third-hand smoke caused lung damage and kept wounded skin from healing properly. It also raised cholesterol and made the mice hyperactive (PLOS One, January 29, 2014). The urine of the test mice contained concentrations of tobacco carcinogens similar to those of children who have breathed second-hand smoke for prolonged periods of time.

You breathe second-hand smoke when you spend time around people who are smoking. Exposure to third-hand smoke occurs when you spend time in an area previously inhabited by smokers who are not there now. The cancer-causing chemicals from the smoke adhere to the walls, ceilings, floors, carpeting and upholstery, and remain there to waft through the air for many years, long after the smokers are gone.

Third-hand smoke is also carried on clothing worn by smokers, so they take it everywhere they go even when they are not smoking. Third-hand smoke can be just as damaging as second-hand smoke. Smoking parents who do not smoke around their children still have children who are:
• absent from school 40 percent more days than children who do not live with smokers (Pediatrics, September 2011),
• readmitted far more often to hospitals for asthma attacks,
• at increased risk for diseases that damage nerves, and
• at increased risk for other smoking-related diseases many years after they have moved away from their parents who smoked.

Checked 7/20/14

February 9th, 2014
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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