A recent study has just revealed yet another harmful effect of secondhand smoke. Should you be concerned? Possibly, as the link is tied to two serious conditions: glucose intolerance and diabetes.
The University of Alabama (Birmingham) study, which was published on-line in the British Medical Journal, decided to take another look at cigarette smoking and its possible relationship to blood-sugar disorders.
In the past, research has shown that smokers are at greater risk for these conditions than nonsmokers are. This time, however, the researchers wanted to see how “passive smokers” (nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke) fit into the puzzle.
The long-term study looked at approximately 4,500 people, aged 18 to 30, over a period of 15 years. None of these people had glucose intolerance or diabetes at the study’s outset. The subjects were divided into four groups: 1) smokers; 2) ex-smokers; 3) nonsmokers with no exposure to secondhand smoke; and 4) nonsmokers who were exposed to secondhand smoke (or passive smokers).
After the 15 years, an average of 16.7% of study participants had developed glucose intolerance. Note that there was a relationship between the amount of cigarette exposure and the risk for this condition.
So, how did each group fare individually? Nonsmokers who had not breathed in secondhand smoke obviously won out, with only 11.5% of them developing the blood-sugar disorder. Curiously, ex-smokers came in second, with a 14.4% rate for the disease. Then came the passive smokers, with a surprising 17.2% of them developing glucose intolerance, followed by the smokers with 21.8%.
Even after other risk factors were taken into account, the differences between the numbers remained similar. So, this means that passive smokers are 35% more likely than nonsmokers (who had not been exposed to cigarette smoke) to suffer from problems with glucose intolerance.
Don’t you find it a little strange that a person who has never smoked is at greater risk for a smoking-related condition than an ex-smoker is? It seems that because of temperature differences and other conditions, some of the toxic components of cigarette smoke become even more concentrated for people passively breathing it in.
So, you might think that by being a nonsmoker you’re saving yourself from a great many nasty and life- threatening health conditions. However, the truth is that if you spend time with people who smoke, or work in an environment where you’re exposed regularly to smoke, then you’re probably still at risk for serious conditions such as glucose intolerance.
The moral of the story? Don’t discount the dangers of secondhand smoke — they’re real!