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Secondhand smoke damages lungs, MRIs show
Date:11/26/2007

, over 1.5 seconds. The helium atoms moved a greater distance than in the lungs of normal subjects, indicating the presence of holes and expanded spaces within the alveoli, tiny sacs within the lungs.

The researchers found that almost one-third of the non-smokers with high exposure to secondhand smoke had structural changes in their lungs similar to those found in the smokers. We interpreted those changes as early signs of lung damage, representing very mild forms of emphysema, said Wang. Emphysema, a lung disease that is a major cause of death in the U.S., is commonly found in heavy smokers.

The researchers also found a seemingly paradoxical result among two-thirds of the high-exposure group of non-smokersdiffusion measurements that were lower than those found in the low-exposure group. Although these findings require more study, said Wang, they may reflect a narrowing in airways caused by early stages of another lung disease, chronic bronchitis.

To our knowledge, this is the first imaging study to find lung damage in non-smokers heavily exposed to secondhand smoke, said Wang. We hope our work strengthens the efforts of legislators and policymakers to limit public exposure to secondhand smoke.


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Contact: Rachel Salis-Silverman
Salis@email.chop.edu
267-426-6063
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia  
Source:Eurekalert

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