Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Author: Elio F. Gagliano, MD
Article Published: 04/12/2007

On November 26, 2007, in a Radiological Society of North America press release, I read shocking news:

"Novel MRI Technique Shows Secondhand Smoke Damages Lungs." The release said that Chengbo Wang, magnetic resonance physicist in the Department of Radiology at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, has identified, through the use of global helium-3 diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), structural damage to the lungs caused by secondhand cigarette smoke.


Well, there's nothing new under the sun: the usual trap for simple souls. Dr. Wang and colleagues studied the lungs of 7 current or former smokers, and of 36 other persons, half of whom had been exposed to a low level of passive smoke, the other half to a high level. Right here the meanness of the study sticks out a mile:


• The number of subjects under study is awfully small to draw any reasonable conclusion.


• Of the seven smokers it is not said if they were light or heavy smokers. (according to some "scientists" even one cigarette a day is sufficient to classify a person as a smoker).


• How did they determine the low and high level of passive smoke? I imagine by asking the subject. If so, there is a complete lack of objectivity: the individual intolerance, and therefore the judgement as to whether a room is full or not full of smoke, is very personal. It would be objective if they measured the quantity of smoke but, if this is so, it would be very interesting to know what kind of machinery they used and what they measured.


• Regarding study participants, we are not told of their age, residence, workplace, lifestyle (just to mention merely some of the necessary parameters to give any sense to the study).


• How did Dr. Wang and company distinguish the eventual lung alterations present in each individual prior to the exposure to active or passive smoke (e.g.: asthma during childhood or puberty).


I think this list is enough to remove all doubt about the unscientific nature, the inconsistency, the invalidity of this study. Unless Dr. Wang has more irons in the fire than what he announced to the press. I'll be waiting but I doubt very much that he can come up with some credible facts.


Dr. Elio F. Gagliano

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