A recent study shows that diet and the amount of exercise you get are not the only factors that can affect weight — breathing second-hand smoke also increases your risk of gaining weight. The study, which included more than 6,300 adults, found that people with higher levels of cotinine — a metabolite of nicotine — in their body also tended to have a higher body mass index (BMI). In other words, people who breathe more second-hand smoke are statistically more prone to being overweight.
The results of the study were presented at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting this year in Houston, Texas. Respondents in the study had all participated in the US’ National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2001 to 2006.
On top of using questionnaires to find out whether a person smokes, the researchers conducting the study also analyzed the level of cotinine in the blood, and then split the respondents into groups based on the data.
Among the respondents, 25 percent were categorized as addicts, or regular smokers, which meant that aside from admitting to be a smoker, their cotinine levels exceeded 3ng/ml. The 41 percent who said they did not smoke and had cotinine levels below 0.05ng/ml were grouped as nonsmokers, while the last group of 34 percent were categorized as second-hand smokers, meaning they did not admit being a smoker but had cotinine levels above 0.05ng/ml.
Cotinine has actually been detected in second-hand smokers in a number of past studies. Residual cotinine can remain in the body for as long as 10 to 14 hours.
After excluding factors that can influence weight, such as sex, age, drinking and exercise, the study not only found that people regularly exposed to second-hand smoke tend to have a higher BMI, they are also at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. People regularly exposed to second-hand smoke are also more prone to developing insulin resistance, as well as having higher levels of impaired fasting glucose (IFG) and glycated hemoglobin.
What else can you do to keep hazardous second-hand smoke out of your body aside from simply avoiding second-hand smoke environments? Wu Ying-rong, the chief executive of the Nutrition Foundation of Taiwan, says that if you would like to decrease the amount of harmful oxidation in your body caused by the free radicals from cigarette smoke, which can in turn cause chronic inflammations, you should increase your intake of fruits and vegetables rich in anti-oxidants.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)