Thirdhand Smoke May Raise Diabetes Risk
Thirdhand smoke (THS) is defined as tobacco smoke chemicals that are left on hair, skin, clothes, walls, carpets and other surfaces long after a cigarette has been extinguished.
Now a study published in PLOS One has determined that exposure to thirdhand smoke may increase the risk for type 2 diabetes. Much of the concern involves toxins that become increasingly toxic with age and are re-emitted into the air or react with other chemicals in the environment to produce new pollutants.
Researchers used a smoke machine to expose empty mouse cages to secondhand smoke, allowing the smoke to land on the surfaces and objects within the cages and become THS. Next they brought mice into the cages, exposing them to the THS.
Further testing concluded that mice exposed to THS were significantly more likely to develop insulin resistance than the non-exposed mice from a control group -- which suggests they were at greater risk for type 2 diabetes.
Investigators believe their finding is the result of oxidative stress -- DNA damage as a result of toxins -- due to exposure to chemicals in THS. They found that THS exposure caused damage to proteins, fats and DNA that led to high levels of glucose in the bloodstream and insulin resistance.
Estimates are that in the U.S., almost 88 million non-smokers aged 3 years and older are exposed to either THS or secondhand smoke -- tobacco smoke exhaled by a smoker -- in their homes.