This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

May 21, 2008

Secondhand Smoke Injures Heart Cells

Whether you live in the United States, Brazil, or China, study after study has documented the negative effects of smoking; a just-published study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) documents the seemingly permanent adverse effects of secondhand smoke.

For a while, we have known that the children of smokers are one-third more likely to develop serious lung disease. (In high school, Joyce was the victim of her mother's secondhand smoke.) However, this recent study confirms "brief exposure to secondhand smoking increases the risk of vascular [fluid carrying systems in the body] disease and [should be] a major public health concern". The increased risk of heart disease is significant.

The study followed a group of healthy nonsmokers (average age of 30.3 years) who were exposed to 30 minutes of secondhand smoke on two separate days. The levels of smoke were gauged at the same levels commonly observed in passive smokers. For the non-secondhand smoke environment, researchers simply used smoke-free air. Measurements were taken before exposure (baseline), immediately after (0 hour), and at one hour, 2.5 hours, and 24 hours after.

Findings were startling. Only a 30-minute exposure to secondhand smoke resulted in indications of heart cell damage and decreased blood flow. Twenty-four hours following exposure, though normal blood flow resumed, there was continuing evidence of heart cell damage.

Our forecast: all insurance companies will begin to ask prospective policyholders if any member of the family is a smoker. (Some already do.) There will be greater discrimination against smokers and their families. Hopefully, more smokers will be encouraged to quit, based on research like this study. In addition, wise employers will extend their wellness programs to the families of employees to eliminate this risk for their workers.

In the short term, there will be an opportunity for marketers to capitalize on this addiction by offering "smoking vacations" and other social opportunities for smokers to be with other smokers in an inclusive environment. More countries around the world will choose to isolate smokers.

Special thanks to Ernie Clevenger who publishes MyHealthGuide, one of my sources for staying up-to-date on development in medicine. (www.MyHealthGuide.com).


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