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Secondhand smoke linked to mental distress

Risk of psychological troubles rises for exposed nonsmokers

5:41pm, June 7, 2010

Where there’s secondhand cigarette smoke, there’s emotional fire. As exposure to cigarette fumes increases among nonsmokers, so does their risk of developing serious psychological distress and of being hospitalized for mental ailments, a new study finds.

Cigarette smokers have been shown to have more psychological problems than nonsmokers do, and new evidence suggests that nonsmokers who inhale high levels of secondhand smoke may experience nearly as much psychological distress as smokers, say epidemiologist Mark Hamer of University College London and his colleagues. Overall, these findings support the view, largely based on animal studies, that nicotine administered in large enough doses can induce sadness and other negative moods, the researchers propose in the August Archives of General Psychiatry.

“Our data are preliminary, but there is a strong possibility that the observed association reflects a causal link,” Hamer says.

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