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Environmental Tobacco Linked to Respiratory Symptoms

People with bronchial hyperresponsiveness at greatest risk

THURSDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Bronchial hyperresponsiveness may put people exposed to environmental tobacco smoke at greater risk for respiratory symptoms, researchers report in the Nov. 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Margaret Gerbase, Ph.D., of the University Hospitals of Geneva, Switzerland, and colleagues monitored respiratory symptoms and spirometry in 1,661 never-smokers over an 11-year period to assess the long-term effects of environmental tobacco smoke exposure on subjects with bronchial hyperresponsiveness.

Environmental tobacco smoke exposure was linked to cough both at baseline and at the 11-year follow-up (odds ratio, 2.1), and was associated with wheeze, cough, dyspnea and chronic bronchitis in those with bronchial hyperresponsiveness. However, dyspnea had the only significant association. Subjects with bronchial hyperresponsiveness exposed to environmental tobacco smoke also had poorer respiratory function.

"Our findings thus justify awareness and prevention policies focusing on susceptible subsets of the population more likely to develop early-onset chronic respiratory disease," the authors conclude. "Yet, because most individuals with bronchial hyperresponsiveness are asymptomatic, policies protecting all non-smokers are the only way to avoid the detrimental effects of environmental tobacco smoke."

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