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Secondhand Smoke Boosts Sinusitis Risk
Date:4/19/2010

About 40 percent of sinus problems can be tied to exposure, expert says

MONDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to secondhand smoke appears to substantially raise the risk for chronic sinusitis, a new Canadian study has found.

In fact, it might explain 40 percent of the cases of the condition, said study author Dr. C. Martin Tammemagi, a researcher at Brock University in Ontario.

"The numbers surprised me somewhat," Tammemagi said. "My general impression was that public health agencies were strongly discouraging smoking and controlling secondhand smoke, and that governments in parallel were passing protective legislation to reduce peoples' exposure to secondhand smoke."

But his team found that more than 90 percent of those in the study who had chronic sinusitis and more than 84 percent of the comparison group, which did not have the condition, were exposed to secondhand smoke in public places.

"To see that exposure to secondhand smoke was still common did surprise and alarm me," he said.

The ill effects of secondhand smoke have been well-documented, and experts know it contains more than 4,000 substances, including 50 or more known or suspected carcinogens and many strong irritants, according to Tammemagi.

The link between secondhand smoke and sinusitis, however, has been little studied, he noted. "To date, there have not been any high-quality studies that have looked at this carefully" and then estimated the role that smoke plays in the sinus problem, he said.

In their study, the researchers evaluated reports of secondhand smoke exposure in 306 nonsmokers who had chronic rhinosinusitis, defined as inflammation of the nose or sinuses lasting 12 weeks or longer. The sinuses are cavities within the cheek bones, around the eyes and behind the nose that moisten and filter air within the nasal cavity.

The researchers asked the participants about their exposure to s
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