Association of environmental tobacco smoke exposure in childhood with early emphysema in adulthood among nonsmokers

Gina S. Lovasi, Ana V Diez Roux, Eric A. Hoffman, Steven M. Kawut, David R. Jacobs, R. Graham Barr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Mechanical stress to alveolar walls may cause progressive damage after an early-life insult such as exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). This hypothesis was examined by using data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), a population-based cohort aged 45-84 years, free of clinical cardiovascular disease, recruited from 6 US sites in 2000-2002. The MESA-Lung Study assessed a fractal, structural measure of early emphysema ("alpha," lower values indicate more emphysema) and a standard quantitative measure ("percent emphysema") from cardiac computed tomography scans. Childhood ETS exposure was assessed retrospectively as a report of living with one or more regular indoor smokers. Analyses included 1,781 nonsmokers (<100 cigarettes, 20 cigars, or 20 pipefulls in their lifetime and urinary cotinine levels <100 ng/mL); mean age was 61 years (standard deviation, 10), and 65% were women. Childhood ETS exposure from 2 or more smokers (17%) compared with none (52%) was associated with 0.05 lower alpha and 2.8 higher percent emphysema (P for trend = 0.04 and 0.01, respectively) after adjustment for demographic, anthropometric, parental, and participant characteristics, as well as adult exposures (e.g., cumulative residential air pollution exposure, exposure to ETS as an adult). Childhood ETS exposure was associated with detectable differences on computed tomography scans of adult lungs of nonsmokers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-62
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Cohort studies
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Emphysema
  • Lung
  • Residence characteristics
  • Spirometry
  • Time
  • Tobacco smoke pollution


Dive into the research topics of 'Association of environmental tobacco smoke exposure in childhood with early emphysema in adulthood among nonsmokers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this