Archive for the ‘Smoking’ Category

In the News: Smokers are passing down health problems to future generations

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

If you’re trying to get pregnant and your partner smokes and drinks now might be the best time for him to quit smoking and cut down on his drinking.  Smoking is linked to birth defects such as spina bifida and cleft palate while drinking large amounts of alcohol has been linked to heart defects, among other problems.


While it is well known that a mother-to-be’s health and diet can affect the future health of her unborn child, new research from the University of Idaho suggests that their partners have an equally important role to play.

Toxic chemicals in cigarettes and alcohol are thought to cause changes in the DNA which are passed down via the sperm to future generations. So even if a smoker’s child never starts smoking, they might still carry the associated risks.

The message is simple: Men are as important as women in terms of their impact on the baby and their health in later life and men who smoke and drink could be endangering the health of their future children and grandchildren.

This warning came along with another warning about a widely used pesticide which may cause prostate and kidney problems across many generations. The pesticide research, presented at the annual conference of the American Association for Advancement of Science, centred around vinclozolin, which is used on oilseed rape in the UK and on grapes and fruit and vegetables in other parts of the world. When it was injected into unborn rats in the first days of life it caused prostate and kidney problems in the young animals. The rats’ sons, grandsons and great-grandsons also suffered prostate and kidney defects. Previous work showed that exposure to vinclozolin in the womb can also affect the quality and quantity of sperm for several generations.

Admittedly, concentrations of the pesticide used were much higher than those people would normally be exposed to, but the experiments provide evidence that the effects of toxins can persist for generations.

The study also underlines the importance of suspending our long held assumption that men are less important in healthy human reproduction than women. Fortunately, not all damage to sperm is permanent and any man hoping to start a family should think twice about drinking and smoking. This is because when both mother and father-to-be minimise their exposure to toxic chemicals, the risk of potential reproductive harm is minimised.

In the News: Heart attacks drop by 17 per cent after smoking is banned

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

More dramatic evidence has emerged to show that banning smoking in public places reduces the risk of heart attacks. In Scotland hospital admissions dropped by 17 percent since smoking was banned in public places in Scotland.

The figures compare with an annual reduction of only three percent for the 10 years before the ban was introduced, the Scottish Government said on its website. Research led by Glasgow University showed there were 3,235 people admitted to hospital with heart attacks in the 10 months before the ban took effect, a government spokeswoman said. But in the 10 months after the ban was brought in, there were 2,684 admissions for people with heart attacks, she added.

The research focused on heart attack admissions to nine hospitals, which accounted for nearly two-thirds of all Scottish hospital heart attack admissions. The research was presented in Edinburgh where Scotland’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Peter Donnelly said it showed the smoking ban was already producing “significant” public health benefits. “It provides evidence that the legislation is improving the health of everyone in Scotland – including smokers, non-smokers, children and bar workers,” Donnelly told an audience of international health experts.

Scotland was the first country in the United Kingdom to introduce a smoking ban. Wales, Northern Ireland and England followed this year. If the pattern in Scotland was repeated in the UK there would be almost 40,000 fewer heart attacks each year.