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Inhaling tobacco smoke in public places
by the Academic Health Center
From eNews, January 22, 2004
University of Minnesota researchers found increased levels of a tobacco-specific lung carcinogen, NNK, in nonsmokers after they spent time in a public setting where smoking is allowed. A new study by University researchers is the first to measure tobacco-specific carcinogens in nonsmokers exposed to environmental tobacco smoke in a public setting. Researchers at the U's Cancer Center tested the urine of 18 nonsmokers before and after a four-hour visit to a casino where they spent nearly all their time in the designated smoking area. The research showed that levels of NNK in the participants increased 112 percent. Previous animal studies have shown that NNK is a major pulmonary carcinogen in rodents and a probable human carcinogen. "Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in restaurants, bars, and casinos presents a potential health hazard to employees and nonsmoking patrons," says lead author Kristin Anderson, associate professor in the School of Public Health. "However, further studies are needed to examine the long-term health effects on employees and patrons of transient exposure to ETS." This study by University researchers is the first to measure tobacco-specific carcinogens in nonsmokers exposed to ETS in a public setting. In a previous study, U researchers examined tobacco carcinogens in nonsmoking women who were exposed to secondhand smoke at home. According to findings from that study, women living with smoking partners had five to six times higher mean levels of tobacco-specific compounds than women with nonsmoking partners. The current study is published in the December 22 Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention.