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Novel MRI technique shows secondhand smoke damages lungs
Date:11/26/2007

which can break down, become enlarged and develop holes after prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke. Helium-3 diffusion MRI identifies this damage by measuring the increased distance the helium atoms move.

With this technique, we are able to assess lung structure on a microscopic level, Dr. Wang said.

For the study, measurements were translated into scores called apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values for each of the participants. An increased ADC value indicates that the helium atoms were able to travel farther during the measurement time. Fifty-seven percent of the smokers and 33 percent of the nonsmokers with high exposure to secondhand smoke had ADC values greater than 0.024, suggesting that early lung damage was present. In addition, 14 percent of smokers, 67 percent of high-exposure nonsmokers, and 39 percent of low-exposure nonsmokers had ADC values below 0.0185. Relatively low ADC values in adults are a possible indication of a developing respiratory problem, such as chronic bronchitis or asthma.

These findings suggest that breathing secondhand smoke can injure your lungs, Dr. Wang said. Since legislation to limit public exposure to secondhand smoke is still being considered in many states, we hope that our work can be used to add momentum to the drive to pass such legislation.


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Contact: Linda Brooks
lbrooks@rsna.org
630-590-7762
Radiological Society of North America
Source:Eurekalert

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