Inhalation of steady-state sidestream smoke from one cigarette promotes arteriosclerotic plaque development.
BACKGROUND A number of epidemiologic studies have suggested that every year environmental tobacco smoke (second-hand smoke) is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths, mostly from heart disease, in the United States. Environmental tobacco smoke is composed mainly (80% to 85%) of aged and diluted sidestream smoke. The remainder is exhaled mainstream smoke. Among the thousands of compounds that have been identified in environmental tobacco smoke are a number of carcinogens, including polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon carcinogens, such as benzo(a)pyrene. We have demonstrated previously that a number of carcinogens, including benzo(a)pyrene, promote plaque development after injection into cockerels. There have been almost no studies showing a direct stimulatory effect of environmental tobacco smoke on plaque development. Recently we demonstrated that cockerels exposed to sidestream smoke for approximately 0.4% of their projected lifespan exhibited accelerated development of arteriosclerotic plaques. In that study, cockerels in specially designed inhalation chambers were exposed to the steady-state sidestream smoke from 5 cigarettes for 6 h/d for 16 weeks. This level of exposure is high but environmentally plausible. Statistically significant increases in plaque size were demonstrated in the smoke-exposed cockerels.
METHODS AND RESULTS In the present study, exposure levels were decreased by a factor of 5. Thirty cockerels were exposed to the steady-state sidestream smoke from 1 cigarette for 6 hours per day for 16 weeks. The smoke was mixed with filtered air. Ten control cockerels were exposed to filtered air only. Levels of smoke surrogates, including carbon monoxide and total suspended particulates, were measured three times a day. Again, there was a statistically significant increase in plaque size in the smoke-exposed cockerels. To place these studies within a context of environmental relevance, levels of carbon monoxide were measured independently over 1 to 3 hours in four bars where there was heavy smoking. Measured carbon monoxide levels were as high or higher in the bars than they were in the exposure chambers during the 1-cigarette sidestream-smoke study.
CONCLUSIONS Experimental exposure to secondhand smoke at levels equal to or even below those routinely encountered by people in smoke-filled environments is sufficient to promote arteriosclerotic plaque development.
- Copyright © 1994 by American Heart Association