How Secondhand Smoke Affects Your Spine

Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

Secondhand Smoke & the Spine

You’re probably aware that smoking isn’t exactly the best choice for your health, but now we’re learning just how much smoking can affect the health of those around you. Secondhand smoke exposure may not seem all that problematic since others aren’t directly inhaling the smoke, but new research found that passive smoke exposure can lead to a number of problems with your spine and your overall health.

For their study, researchers examined more than 70,000 women who were born between the years 1925 and 1950. Each participant had their health data collected every year after 1990 and the average participant was tracked for just over 21 years. After looking at the collection of data, researchers found that children who were exposed to secondhand smoke were much more likely to develop certain health problems, and to become smokers themselves when they got older.

Your Spine And Secondhand Smoke

According to researchers, current smokers who were exposed to secondhand smoke as a child were 73 percent more likely to develop Rheumatoid Arthritis or Ankylosing Spondylitis of the spine than non-smokers. Interestingly, smokers who were not exposed to secondhand smoke as a child were only 37 percent more likely to develop either of the two conditions than non-smokers. Moreover, the effects were amplified in girls who were exposed to secondhand smoke at a young age.

“Smoking constitutes a major risk factor not only for disease susceptibility but also disease severity in patients with Ankylosing Spondylitis,” said study lead author Servet Akar.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing Spondylitis is an inflammatory arthritis condition that affects the joints and discs in a person’s spine. We’ve already known that active smoking can inhibit healthy blood flow to the spine and in turn lead to spinal degeneration and joint arthritis, but this is the first study to shine a light on the damaging effects of secondhand smoke on our spine.

When you consider that secondhand smoke has been linked to spinal arthritis and an increased likelihood that your childhood will pick up the habit when they get older, it’s clear that you should make an effort to give up smoking altogether, or at a minimum give it up while you’re around your kids. If not, you’re putting their spine health and their joint health at risk.

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