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02-02-2010 | Respiratory | Article

Passive smoking increases bronchitis risk in women


Free abstract

MedWire News: Exposure to second-hand smoke (SHS) is a significant risk factor for the chronic bronchitis in Taiwanese women, research shows.

Ming-Tsang Wu (Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Taiwan) and team explain smoking is the primary cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but “cigarette smoking cannot fully explain the epidemiologic characteristics of COPD in women, particularly for those who rarely smoke.”

To investigate the relationship between SHS exposure and chronic bronchitis in Taiwanese women, the researchers studied 33 women with chronic bronchitis, 182 with probable chronic bronchitis, and 205 without chronic bronchitis.

Smoking habits and self-reported exposure to SHS were validated by measurement of urinary cotinine levels. Chronic bronchitis was classified according to Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease spirometric guidelines on COPD severity.

After accounting for body mass index, exposure to cooking fumes, and other variables, the researchers found that women who smoked and non-smoking women with lifetime exposure to SHS were 24.81 and 3.65 times, respectively, more likely to have chronic bronchitis than non-smoking women who had not been regularly exposed to SHS.

The researchers also found evidence to suggest that there was a dose-dependent relationship between SHS exposure and COPD severity in non-smoking women.

They note that the population attributable risks for chronic bronchitis in smokers and non-smokers exposed to SHS were 23.2% and 47.3%, respectively.

Wu and team conclude in the journal BMC Public Health: “These findings indicate that, besides cigarette smoking, exposure to SHS is a major risk factor for chronic bronchitis in Taiwanese women.”

They add: “Our findings add additional evidence to the growing body of knowledge supporting the great need for health policies to ensure that a smoke-free environment is created and maintained for the public to decrease the risk of adverse health consequences by non-smokers exposed to SHS.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Mark Cowen

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