Thirdhand Smoke: A New Cause of Diabetes

Exposure to cigarette smoke that lingers on surfaces - or thirdhand smoke - can cause insulin resistance, according to a study published in PLOS ONE.

While secondhand smoke is the smoke that's been exhaled or burned by other people smoking around you, thirdhand smoke (THS) is what clings to surfaces in cars, homes, clothing or hair. THS has been shown to trigger health complications in mice, and now diabetes can be added to the list of problems it can cause.

“Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to THS and its impact on health," said Manuela Martins-Green, lead study author and professor at UC Riverside. "Because infants frequently crawl on carpets and touch objects exposed to exhaled smoke, they are at high risk for THS exposure. The elderly are at high risk simply because older organs are more susceptible to disease.”

Carcinogenic pollutants

Approximately 88 million U.S. residents live in homes where they are exposed to THS, a news release on the study stated.

Researchers discovered that animals who were exposed to THS had rising levels of oxidative stress, which led to the damage of proteins, fats and DNA and also caused hyperglycemia.

When THS clings to surfaces, the residue can easily mix with dust, chemicals and other pollutants in the environment - causing a toxic combination that can be carcinogenic, Martins-Green said.

“To rid the house of THS, you have to strip the home of everything – furniture, appliances, paint, clothes, ducts, ventilation – that could have THS,” Martins-Green said. “It would be more effective to simply move. Yes, there are cleaners we can use, but that would mean exposure to other strong chemicals.”

Source: UCR

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