Passive smoking 'can cause birth defects'

A new survey has indicated that inhaling second-hand smoke can potentially cause birth defects, miscarriages and other health problems by altering the genetic make-up of sperm cells.

Researchers headed by Health Canada's Carole Yauk recently conducted a study involving laboratory mice and found that sidestream tobacco smoke - which contains around 60 known carcinogens - could be responsible for damaging DNA.

"Paternal exposure to second-hand smoke may have reproductive consequences that go beyond the passive smoker," the team stated. "Smoking is still widespread and its health effects remain a significant public concern."

The report also noted that approximately 35 per cent of North American men of reproductive age are cigarette smokers, while 40 per cent of non-smokers are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke.

Last week, Association for International Cancer Research scientific co-ordinator Dr Mark Matfield expressed concern about the number of people who are yet to kick the habit, despite regular high-profile publicity campaigns.

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Passive smoking 'can cause birth defects'
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