November 11, 2010

Children of Home Smokers Absorb Dangerous Carcinogens

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Adult smokers who smoke in their house are creating a hazardous environment for their children every day.  New research from the University of Minnesota found that 90 percent of these children had tobacco-related carcinogens in their urine as a result of the secondhand smoke.

What's more, the amount of said metabolized carcinogens was considerably high.  On average, the children in the study had 8 percent of the entire amount of carcinogens found in their smoking parent.  This percentage was higher than adult non-smokers who came in regular contact with secondhand smoke, and contained only 1 - 5 percent of the carcinogens of their smoking counterparts.

The research was motivated by a desire to combat household smoking with hard, supportive evidence.  "Almost one third of young children in the United States live in a house with at least one smoker," lead researcher Janet L. Thomas, Ph.D. was quoted as saying.  "My concern is that parents and family members may not truly understand the risk they pose to these children."

The researchers tested the urine samples of 79 children living in smoking households by calculating the total amounts of NNAL (a biomarker of the carcinogenic nitrosamine NNK), nicotine, and continine (a longer-lasting byproduct of nicotine).  Ninety percent of the children had observable NNAL and nicotine levels and ninety-five percent had traces of continine.

A direct correlation was found between the amount of cigarettes smoked in the house each day and the amount of tobacco-related metabolites found in the children living with them.

"Based on these results, there is little doubt that total NNAL in the urine of children could be substantially reduced by home smoking restrictions," Thomas was quoted as saying.  "We need to act now to ensure that all parents have the facts they need to make informed decisions to protect their families from this completely preventable health hazard."

SOURCE: American Association for Cancer Research, November 2010