(NaturalNews) Cigarette smoke, whether first-hand or second-hand, has been linked with countless physical health ailments, including the major killers cancer and heart disease. And it could affect one's mental and emotional state, too. According to USA Today, a report which was presented at the American Psychosomatic Society meeting held in Chicago had found that passive smoking more than doubled a person's risk of getting major depression, as compared to non-smokers who were not exposed to second-hand smoke.
Details and Findings of Study
For the study, assessment on second-hand smoke exposure was carried out by measuring cotinine, which is a compound found in the bloodstream after one inhales smoke, as well as self-reported information on contact with smokers at home or at work. Out of over 90,000 non-smoking study subjects, cotinine levels were available for over 3,000 of them. The subjects were also surveyed for the symptoms of depression.
Either way, whether or not cotinine levels were available, exposure to second-hand smoke was strongly linked with major depression. This was said to be the first American study drawing such a link, and it affirmed the findings of a previous Japanese study. That study, though, did not use cotinine levels.
Second-hand Smoke and Cognitive Impairment
The mental issues caused by second-hand smoke could extend beyond depression, too. A study recently published in the British Medical Journal associated such exposure for non-smokers with significantly increased risk of suffering cognitive impairment.
In fact, after accounting for many established risk factors for cognitive impairment, it was found that those with the highest levels of cotinine in their blood (0.8-13.5 ng/ml) were 44% more likely to suffer such ailments as compared to those with the lowest levels (0.0-0.1 ng/ml). Similar patterns were found for formers smokers and persons who had never smoked before.
Does Cigarette Smoke Really Cause Depression?
As things stand, there is already a known strong correlative relationship between smoking and depression. It is, however, also a chicken-and-egg situation. While some evidence suggests that cigarette smoke can induce negative moods, there is also the possibility that depressed persons are more likely to turn to smoking.
A recent study conducted at the Florida State University helped to shed further light on this issue. It had found that laboratory rats which were exposed to nicotine during adolescence were more prone to suffer a "depression-like state" during adulthood; this included decreased ability to cope with stress and anxiety as well as reduced sensitivity to rewards. Significantly, even very brief exposure - just a day - to nicotine was enough to cause such outcomes. The researchers further found that these symptoms could be alleviated by administering nicotine or antidepressants during adulthood.
That study was groundbreaking in revealing that nicotine exposure in one's early years could result in long-term effects on one's mental state. While it was conducted on rats, it is possible that similar effects could also take place in humans. In addition, the study's findings lend credence to the belief that smoking could contribute to mental disorders like depression, as supposed to the other way round.
Not surprisingly, some smokers are adamant that the evidence associating cigarette smoke with increased risk of depression is flimsy. In any case, notwithstanding the smoke-depression link, there is already more than enough proof that staying away from cigarette smoke, whether first-hand or second-hand, is an important component of any health-promoting lifestyle.