Hey, campers, here's something that will really drive you crazy. One of your favorite things, sitting around a campfire getting smoke blown in your face, is terribly unhealthy.
According to a new study from University of Kentucky researchers,second hand tobacco smoke and smoke from cooking oil and wood fires affected cardiovascular function of men and women who were exposed to small doses of the smoke for as little as 10 minutes. It turns out that previous findings are correct -- that second hand tobacco smoke can indeed harm cardiovascular function. But some new information came to light as well. Here are the high points:
1) Cardiovascular responses during brief exposures were similar to those found during longer or higher-level exposures That second hand smoke on a short bus ride can indeed have a negative effect.
2) The response occurs with different types of smoke, whether it be from tobacco, cooking oil or even wood smoke from a campfire.
3) Men respond to tobacco smoke with a greater intensity than do women.
The problem with inhalation of smoke is that the sympathetic nervous system produces the “fight or flight” response in humans, which drives the heart and blood pressure and may cause damage if activated too long. (Women have a different type of response, which makes the problem much more dangerous in men.)
Accumulating evidence indicates that an increase in air pollution is associated with an increase in heart attacks and deaths. Researchers say that many of these pollutants, including that which originates from tobacco and cooking oil smoke, contain fine particles that evoke responses from heart and blood vessels indicating effects on their function.
The study found that exposure to smoke changed breathing patterns, raised blood pressure oscillations in peripheral arteries and changed heart rates. The sympathetic nervous system becomes active during times of stress, but can cause harm to the heart and blood vessels if activated too often or too long.