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Smoking can Trigger Blindness

Researchers from Japan and the U.S. have shown that Japanese smokers face a macular degeneration risk four times higher than nonsmokers.

In this disorder, over time, light-sensitive cells in the retina die, causing vision loss. The disease is most common among men than among Japanese women, but this sex-based distinction reflects the fact that Japanese women smoke less.

“The bottom line for people worried about age-related macular degeneration is that there is a modifiable risk factor that is very, very strong, and that’s smoking,” says Dr. Peter Gehlbach, an ophthalmologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and a co-author of the study.

According to the National Institute of Health, more than a third of Americans who are aged over 75 suffer from macular degeneration. This condition can occur in two forms: a “wet” one marked by permeable blood vessels in the retina and a “dry” one, more common, progressing slowly.

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Smoking while pregnant 'triggers asthma through DNA changes'

They have discovered this could be partially because smoking while pregnant can change the structure of the child's DNA, weakening the immune system.

While it is commonly thought that genes are immutably, except if exposed to radiation, more and more evidence is showing that DNA can be changed by more
everyday environmental influences. This happens through a normal biological process known as DNA methylation.

Now American medical researchers have found a potential genetic "root cause" of the link between smoking while pregnant and childhood asthma.

They found that the children of women who smoked while pregnant were more likely to have experienced more DNA methylation of the AXL gene, which is crucial
to development of the immune system.

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Study find smokers risk surgery complications

Results from a clinical study presented at ANESTHESIOLOGY 2010 found that smokers have significantly more complications post-surgery than non-smokers, including a higher death rate.

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Cigarettes which have lower levels of nicotine than conventional ones, may be even more harmful

In recent years, tobacco companies have been marketing "safer" cigarettes made from complex fibers or genetically altered tobacco plants to reduce nicotine concentration.

But stem cell scientists at the University of California-Riverside in the US have found the smoke coming off the end of a smoldering harm reduction cigarette, known as sidestream smoke, is even more toxic than sidestream smoke from conventional brands.

Researchers say because it isn't possibly to determine chemical toxicity on actual human embryos, they developed tests with human embryonic stem cells, which model young embryos, to measure the toxicity of smoke. Tests measured both mainstream smoke, when a smoker actively inhales, and sidestream smoke, which contributes to secondhand smoke, from both conventional and harm reduction cigarette brands.

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Heavy smoking during middle age can double the risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia

Smoking already causes millions of deaths each year from cancer and heart disease.

"Our study suggests that heavy smoking in middle age increases the risk of both Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia for men and women across different race groups," Rachel Whitmer, a research scientist with Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California and colleagues wrote in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

They said smoking also causes cancer and heart disease. The new findings show it threatens public health in late life, when people are already more likely to develop dementia.

Whitmer's team analyzed data from 21,123 members of a health plan who took part in a survey when they were in their 50s and 60s.

About 25 percent of the group, 5,367 volunteers, were diagnosed with some form of dementia in the more than 20 years of follow up, including 1,136 people who were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia, is a fatal brain disease in which people gradually lose their memories and their abilities to reason and care for themselves. It affects more than 26 million people globally

People who smoked more than two packs of cigarettes a day had a higher risk of both Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia.

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