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Antioxidant Cocktail May Reduce Health Problems from Second-Hand Cigarette Smoke
BACKGROUND: Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, many of which are hazardous free radicals. In addition to their direct damage, free radicals can also initiate an inflammatory response, which further injures tissues.
RESEARCH: Researchers exposed laboratory mice to second-hand cigarette smoke for 30 minutes daily, 5 days a week, for four months. Some of the mice received extra amounts of 11 antioxidants in their food. These antioxidants included natural vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C, bioflavonoids, and other nutrients. The researchers measured levels of free radicals and inflammation in mice eating a regular diet and those also receiving the antioxidants.
RESULTS: Mice exposed to cigarette smoke had higher levels of free radicals in the liver, the organ that breaks down hazardous chemicals. They also had elevated levels of interleukin-6, an inflammation-causing compound. Mice receiving the antioxidant combination maintained normal levels of free radicals and interleukin-6.
IMPLICATIONS: It would be best to avoid exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke. However, based on this animal study, a combination of multiple antioxidants may block some of the health effects of cigarette smoke. Such supplementation might be worthwhile for people who cannot avoid exposure to cigarette smoke.
Zhang J, Jiang S, Watson RR. "Antioxidant supplementation prevents oxidation and inflammatory responses induced by sidestream cigarette smoke in old mice," Environmental Health Perspectives, 2001;109:1007-1009.
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