Secondhand smoke is associated with psychological distress and psychiatric hospital admission
posted on: Jun 8, 2010
A new study finds exposure to secondhand smoke is associated with psychological distress and psychiatric hospital admission among healthy adults in the Scottish Health Survey.
Dr Mark Hamer of University College London, and colleagues, including Dr David Batty, a Wellcome Trust Fellow at the MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, studied 5,560 non-smoking adults (average age 49.8) and 2,595 smokers (average age 44.8) who did not have a history of mental illness and participated in the Scottish Health Survey in 1998 or 2003. Participants were assessed with a questionnaire about psychological distress, and admissions to psychiatric hospitals were tracked over six years of follow-up. Exposure to secondhand smoke among non-smokers was assessed using saliva levels of cotinine (the main product formed when nicotine is broken down by the body).
A total of 14.5 percent of the participants reported psychological distress. Non-smokers with a high exposure to secondhand smoke were more likely to report psychological distress when compared with those who had no detectable cotinine. Over the six-year follow-up, 41 individuals were newly admitted to psychiatric hospitals. Study members with greater exposure to secondhand smoke were also more likely to be admitted to hospital with a psychiatric disorder. The authors concluded that "Our data are consistent with other emerging evidence to suggest a causal role of nicotine exposure in mental health. The findings emphasize the importance of reducing secondhand smoke exposure at a population level not only for physical health but also for mental health".
The findings are published online by Archives of General Psychiatry.