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Chapter 9: Smoking and Asthma
Whilst it is probably premature to say that most people believe smoking,
active or passive, causes asthma, it is not premature to say that most people
feel it is a risk factor for it, and it is a certainty that the anti-smoking
crusade are trying incredibly hard to convince us all that asthma is a result of
tobacco smoke. Regardless of what we are
told though, the question is this: does smoking really cause asthma, and where
is the proof?
As always with the anti-smokers, the answer is: ‘no it doesn’t, and there is
no proof’ or, more accurately, no scientific proof – there is, of course,
an abundance of junk science masquerading as real science and it is bandied
around so quick, forcefully and often that many people succumb to the fallacy
that it is real science. The real
science, however, shows asthma is entirely unrelated to smoking, except the
ongoing idea that passive smoke may trigger an asthma attack – this is probably
true, but in all honesty it is of no real consequence given it depends on the
severity of the sufferer’s asthma and the realisation that even dust can trigger
an attack. Let us not forget that grass
and plants can trigger severe hayfever, but there is no shout for a ban on
anything related to hayfever.
study published in the July
edition of the British Medical Journal
found very interesting results which challenge the mantra that smoke causes
asthma. The study was an
intergenerational study over 20 years, and researchers found that whilst the
rate of asthma had doubled between 1976 and 1996, the smoking rate during that
period had halved. Furthermore, asthma
and hay fever increased for both smokers and non-smokers but more so for
non-smokers, and that the steep rise in asthma was dramatically underscored by
the fact that prescriptions for steroid inhalants for treatment of asthma rose
more than six-fold between 1980 and 1990 alone.
What is extremely relevant, and telling, is that this pattern is not
occurring solely in the population sample of the study: asthma and allergy rates
are increasing drastically among adults and children in all developed countries,
but not in less-developed poorer countries.
 Upton M N et al 2000 Intergenerational 20 year trends in the
prevalence of asthma and hay fever in adults: the Midspan family study surveys
of parents and offspring BMJ
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