Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Smoking Cessation Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Secondhand Smoke Lowers Folic Acid Level

Lack of Important Nutrient May Explain Some of Smoking's Health Effects

WebMD Health News

June 30, 2003 -- Smoking may not only rob your own body of a vital nutrient, but it could also deprive those around you. A new study shows firsthand andsecondhand smoke exposure can lower folic acid levels in the body and may explain some of smoking's bad health effects.

Folic acid is an essential B vitamin that is found in leafy green vegetables, fruits, orange juice, whole grains, organ meats, and cereals fortified with folic acid. It plays a vital role in DNA synthesis and repair within the body.

Smokers at Risk

Researchers say folic acid plays an important role in preventing birth defects, and there is some evidence it may reduce the risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and heart disease in adults. Previous studies have shown that smokers have lower folic acid levels. But researchers say the impact of secondhand smoke on folic acid has not been examined.

Using information on more than 15,000 American adults, the researchers compared the effects of cigarette smoke exposure on folic acid levels. The complete findings appear in the current issue of Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

Overall, researchers found the folic acid level in current smokers was 20% lower than in nonsmokers.

Nonsmokers, Too

The researchers also found that heavy exposure to secondhand smoke also resulted in lower folic acid levels among nonsmokers. People with high exposure to secondhand smoke were more likely to have low folic acid levels.

On average, researchers found that people with heavy secondhand smoke exposure had folic acid levels about 10% lower than those who had low exposure to secondhand smoke.

Researchers say those differences in folic acid levels were not due completely to lower intakes of folic acid from dietary sources or supplements and may help explain some of smoking's health effects.

"This finding provides biological support for recent studies linking tobacco smoke exposure to heart disease and breast cancer and provides biological plausibility to examine the role of tobacco smoke exposure in other folic acid-related diseases such as neural tube defects and colon cancer," write researcher David M. Mannino, MD, of the CDC, and colleagues.

Today on WebMD

hands breaking a cigarette
Is quitting cold turkey an effective method?
ashtray
14 tips to get you through the first hard days.
 
smoking man
Surprising impacts of tobacco on the body.
cigarette smoke
What happens when you kick the habit?
 

Filtered cigarettes
ARTICLE
an array of e cigarettes
ARTICLE
 
human heart
ARTICLE
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms
ARTICLE
 

man smoking cigarette
ARTICLE
no smoking sign
VIDEO
 
Woman ashing cigarette in ashtray
ARTICLE
chain watch
ARTICLE