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Nicotine Levels Higher in Children Exposed to Secondhand Smoke in the Home

December 3, 2009

• Data support home smoking ban.
• Younger children more at risk for increased exposure.

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PHILADELPHIA – New research published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, supports the World Health Initiative’s efforts for a home smoking ban, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Specifically, hair nicotine concentrations were higher in children exposed to secondhand smoke at home, and the younger the children, the higher the concentration under the same level of secondhand smoke exposure at home.

“This study provides adequate evidence to support home smoking bans, particularly in homes with small children,” said Sungroul Kim, Ph.D., a research associate at the Institute for Global Tobacco Control at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Kim and colleagues used hair nicotine concentrations as a biomarker of secondhand smoke exposure, because it is less affected by day-to-day exposure variation compared to the presence of nicotine in other body fluid samples.

The study included 1,284 children from 31 countries in Latin America, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Among the houses with high nicotine concentrations in the indoor air (more than 10 mg/m3 compared with less than 0.01 mg/m3), women had three times the level of hair nicotine concentrations; children had a 6.8-fold increase in hair nicotine concentrations.

Furthermore, children who were younger than 6 years old had 12 percent higher levels of nicotine concentration than those who were older. Those who spent more than 19 hours a day at home had 15 percent higher levels of nicotine concentration in their hair than those who spent less than 19 hours a day at home after adjusting other explanatory variables.

“Clearly the younger children are the most at risk; this is a call to action on a global level,” said Kim.

These results were published as part of a special focus on tobacco in the December issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 30,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and nearly 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowship and career development awards. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 16,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. The AACR publishes six major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists. CR provides a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship and advocacy.

Media Contact:

Jeremy Moore

(267) 646-0557

jeremy.moore@aacr.org

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