Vitamin C May Protect Nonsmokers From Second-Hand Smoke

BERKELEY, Calif.–Antioxidant intake, particularly vitamin C, may reduce the risk of chronic diseases linked to second-hand smoke exposure, according to research in the August edition of Nutrition & Cancer (45, 2:176-84, 2003) ( According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), second-hand smoke is responsible for an estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year in America and is also linked to heart disease.

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, noted in their research that both lung cancer and heart disease are associated with elevated levels of oxidative stress.

To investigate the potential of antioxidants in reducing the risk of chronic disease in nonsmokers, researchers measured lipid peroxidation biomarker F2-isoprostanes (F2-IsoPs), an index of oxidative stress, in nonsmokers exposed to environmental tobacco smoke. Sixty-seven nonsmokers were randomly assigned to one of three treatments: placebo, vitamin C or a combination of vitamin C, vitamin E and alpha-lipoic acid. Researchers analyzed blood samples for F2-IsoPs levels at baseline and after two months of supplementation.

Those in the vitamin C group exhibited a decrease in oxidative stress compared to the placebo group. Researchers concluded daily supplementation with antioxidants, particularly vitamin C, can decrease oxidative stress and may be of importance for preventing smoke-related health effects in nonsmokers.

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