Healthwrap Second Hand Smokers

According to new research out of the American Heart Association, exposure to secondhand smoke results in a disproportionate rise in markers that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Rather than relying on participants’ self-reporting of exposure to secondhand smoke, researchers measured the level of cotinine in the participants’ blood.

Cotinine is the major breakdown product of nicotine that indicates levels of nicotine intake. And it comes solely from tobacco smoke. The higher the cotinine levels, the higher the exposure to second hand smoke. The researchers found those with confirmed secondhand smoke exposure also had elevated levels of blood proteins called fibrinogen, homocysteine and C-reactive protein, all markers of cardiovascular disease.

 Many of those exposed to second hand smoke lived with a smoker, or were exposed at work. The researchers say the study shows that very low levels of exposure to secondhand smoke may be associated with appreciable increases in cardiovascular risk. The associations with fibrinogen and homocysteine observed in the study translate into an increase in a disease risk of at least 5 percent, and maybe as high as 30 percent.

 So get your loved ones to kick the habit…for your sake, if not theirs. If you lift stuff for a living, you may be working too hard! According to a new Ohio State University study, workers who lift for a living need to take longer or more frequent breaks than they now do to avoid back injury. The study also suggests that people who are new on the job need to take breaks even more often than experienced workers, and that the risk of injury is higher at the end of a work shift.

The researchers measured the amount of oxygen reaching the muscles in the lower back during lifting. The oxygen level indicated how hard the muscles were working, and whether they were becoming fatigued. Previous research has shown that muscle fatigue is linked to back injury. Despite the fact that the study participants were performing the same job at the same pace all day, their back muscles needed more oxygen as the day went on.

Taking a half-hour lunch break helped their muscles recover from the morning's exertion, but once they started working again, their oxygen needs rose steeply and kept climbing throughout the afternoon. In other words, the muscles were becoming fatigued more quickly in the afternoon. The authors recommend more breaks in the afternoon. While employers might balk at the suggestion of more breaks, the authors say it will save them money.

A 2004 study by Harvard medical school and Massachusetts General Hospital found that back pain results in over 100 million lost work days per year. And a Duke University medical center study found that in 1998, total health care expenditures incurred by people with back pain in the United States reached $90.7 billion.


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