Kritische anti-roken onderzoeker Dr. Michael Siegel zet op zijn weblog de anti-rokenorganisaties weer eens een keer voor schut door hun te confronteren met een nieuw onderzoek naar de ‘gevaren’ van eten bij McDonalds.
De anti-rokenorganisaties (daarin gevolgd door naieve figuren als minister Ab Klink en zijn ambtenaren) claimen al tijden dat 30 minuten meeroken grote gevolgen voor de gezondheid heeft:
- Verharding van de slagaders
- Hart- en vaatziekten
- Acuut doodvallen
Siegel, die deze claims al lange tijd bestrijdt (“het zijn normale, kortstondige en onschuldige reacties van het lichaam”), verwijst in zijn laatste weblog naar een nieuw onderzoek dat is gedaan naar eten bij McDonalds. Daarin werden zelfs de ‘gezonde’ maaltijden meegenomen, die geen uitzondering op de conclusie vormden: er is na het eten van zo’n maaltijd eenzelfde effect aan de bloedbanen te meten als dat gebruikt wordt om deze meerokenclaims te rechtvaardigen.
Begging the question of why someone would go to McDonalds to order a salad, fruit, yogurt, and orange juice in the first place, this study has very important implications for the widespread claims that anti-smoking groups are making about the acute cardiovascular effects of secondhand smoke.
The study casts into serious doubt the widespread claims of anti-smoking groups that 30 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure causes hardening of the arteries, atherosclerosis, heart disease, decreased coronary artery blood flow, strokes, heart attacks, and death. These claims are based largely on the Otsuka et al. study, which showed that brief secondhand smoke exposure causes endothelial dysfunction – as measured by a reduction in coronary endothelial-dependent flow-mediated dilatation – in healthy nonsmokers.
Here, however, we see that simply eating a single high-fat meal – even a seemingly healthy one – also causes endothelial dysfunction and to same extent as a brief exposure to secondhand smoke. Since it would be absurd to claim that eating a single high-fat meal causes hardening of the arteries, atherosclerosis, heart disease, decreased coronary artery blood flow, strokes, heart attacks, and death, it is equally absurd to make the same claims for a single, brief secondhand smoke exposure.
What these studies – both of them – demonstrate is that there is a plausible mechanism by which chronic exposure to high fat meals and secondhand smoke can lead to the development of atherosclerosis and eventually – to heart disease. But clearly, the process does not occur immediately.
Moreover, while it may be technically true that a brief exposure to secondhand smoke could hypothetically trigger a heart attack in someone with severe existing coronary artery disease due to its acute effects on endothelial dysfunction, the same can be said with respect to eating a high-fat meal. But you don’t hear health groups going around warning people that eating a high-fat meal can trigger a fatal heart attack.
The point is this: if someone has such severe coronary artery disease that a heart attack can be triggered by an acute impairment of endothelial dysfunction due to a brief secondhand smoke exposure, then such a cardiac event can also be triggered by eating a high-fat meal. We are talking about a very specific situation, so the generalized claims being made by anti-smoking groups that 30 minutes of secondhand smoke triggers heart attacks are simply not supported by the science.
The rest of the story is that the “30 minute claims” being made by anti-smoking groups represent the most shoddy science and they have no place in the tobacco control movement if the movement wishes to maintain any sense of scientific integrity.
Of course, if the movement doesn’t care about scientific integrity any more, then retaining these 30-minute claims is a great idea, because it makes for a more sensational communication and will falsely appeal to the public’s emotions.
In other words, in making these 30-minute claims, anti-smoking groups are essentially borrowing a classic tobacco industry technique.