Passive smoke lung damage shown

Scientists have been able to visualise the damaging effect of passive smoking for the first time.

Passive smoking has already been linked to respiratory illnesses, cancer and cardiovascular disease. But scientists have now shown deep structural lung damage in nonsmokers exposed to other people's smoke using a special form of MRI.

The 'global helium-3 diffusion MRI' method is unique because people must inhale helium before undergoing imaging.

The MRI scanner measures how far the polarised helium atoms can diffuse through the lungs in 1.5 seconds.

Lung damage means the helium atoms can move further as they have expanded spaces where alveoli are damaged.

For the latest study, 15 smokers and 45 non-smokers with a range of passive smoke exposures were assessed using the technique. Participants were aged 41-79 years.

Almost a third of non-smokers with high exposure to secondhand smoke had lung damage similar to that of smokers, delegates were told at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago this week.

The remaining two-thirds of non-smokers had lower diffusion measurement than nonsmokers with low exposure. This may reflect narrowing of the airways as seen in early chronic bronchitis, researchers suggest.

Lead researcher Dr Chengo Wang, a magnetic resonance physicist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said: 'To our knowledge, this is the first imaging study to find lung damage in non-smokers heavily exposed to secondhand smoke.'

Radiological Society of North America annual meeting

Comment below and tell us what you think


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

£20 notes spread out

VAT trap for PCNs could strip millions of pounds from general practice

Tens of millions of pounds could be stripped from general practice because work carried...

Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: Is the BMA representing GPs effectively, why GPs face a pension tax hit, and views on the workload crisis

In our regular news review the team discusses representation of GPs, a new survey...

Man sleeping

NICE guidance on insomnia backs app to replace sleeping pills

Hundreds of thousands of people with insomnia could be offered treatment via a mobile...

Health worker prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine

JCVI backs autumn COVID-19 booster campaign for high-risk adults and NHS staff

Frontline health and social care staff and adults at increased risk of severe illness...

GP consultation

Government accused of 'misleading' claims on general practice workforce

GP leaders have accused the government of making misleading claims about the general...

Consulting room door

LMC calls for enhanced access to be scrapped after abuse forces practice to close reception

A Midlands LMC has backed a practice forced to close its reception desk after abuse...