Second-hand smoke severely impacts cognitive function

second-hand smoke

A new research study has signified that cognitive impairments and a decreased body weight can be caused by chronic exposure to second-hand smoke.

The investigation, led by the Oregon Health and Science University, has discovered that chronic exposure to second-hand smoke has significant health implications, leading to a loss in body weight and increased cognitive impairments, with the most significant effects displayed in males.

The research is published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Jacob Raber, the lead author of the study from the Oregon Health and Science University, said: “The hope is that we can better understand these effects for policymakers and the next generation of smokers. Many people still smoke, and these findings suggest that that the long-term health effects can be quite serious for people who are chronically exposed to second-hand smoke.”

The indirect killer

To investigate the effects of second-hand smoke, the team analysed the daily exposure of 62 mice for a period of ten months, manufacturing a uniquely designed smoking robot to simulate the consumption of one pack of cigarettes a day in a ventilated laboratory space. Raber said: “Nobody has done this, ever. This study is unique.”

The mice were separated into two groups, one expressing the tau protein – understood to be influential in Alzheimer’s-like dementia, and one wild-type group, exposing the mice to 168 minutes of smoke per day, then analysing their behaviour and cognition in addition to lung and brain tissue.

Interestingly, the team found that the smoke harmed all of the healthy mice, with their analysis signifying that the mice with the predisposition to the tau protein did not suffer worse effects than the wild-type mice. Another discovery was that deterioration in cognition was sex-dependent, with the males displaying considerable changes in the hippocampus region of the brain compared to females, with the males also displaying a more significant weight loss. Finally, the team distinguished that there were significant changes in the brains of the wild-type mice in the brains metabolic pathway compared to the tau subjects, with males once again exhibiting more severe effects than the females.

Raber said: “Long-term exposure to second-hand smoke triggers detrimental changes. Based on our study, it seems that males might be more susceptible than females. People should take that into consideration.”

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