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UVA Alum: MRIs Document Lung Damage from Secondhand Smoke

November 26, 2007

Richmond, VA – Scientists have long said that secondhand smoke injures the lungs of nonsmokers -- and now, there are pictures to prove it. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that documents structural damage deep in the lungs of nonsmokers is being released today by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The researcher is a University of Virginia graduate.

Keenan Caldwell, with the American Cancer Society of Virginia, welcomes more scientific evidence.

"Secondhand smoke is dangerous to health. The health effects of secondhand smoke need to be curtailed and monitored, and that's what we're trying to do in Virginia."

The Virginia General Assembly is expected to debate a public indoor smoking ban next year. Caldwell says it's what the public wants.

"People understand that this is a critical health issue. Polls have shown that more than 70 percent of Virginians understand secondhand smoke is deadly."

Dr. Chengbo Wang, the magnetic resonance physicist from UVA who conducted the research, says he hopes the results help strengthen public health policy. Critics point out that not every nonsmoker in the study developed lung damage, and that the study's funders promote indoor smoking bans. The study received financial support from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute, the Commonwealth of Virginia Technology Research Fund, and Siemens Medical Solutions.

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - VA