Smoking in hotel rooms increasingly barred

Research shows that spending time in a room where people previously smoked constitutes “third-hand” smoking.

By
April 7, 2013 04:59
4 minute read.
Woman smokes a cigarette

Smoking cigarette 370. (photo credit: Daniel Munoz/Reuters)

 
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Research shows that spending time in a room where people previously smoked constitutes “third-hand” smoking. The smoke and remains of nicotine and other contaminants stick to the carpets, furniture, drapes, bedding and other objects there, and these remnants can endanger health. So it’s better to be in a smoke-free room.

In the past, hotels allocated some rooms for non-smokers.

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But, says smoking prevention lawyer Amos Hausner, there is a growing trend in the world to allow only no-smoking hotel rooms, or a majority in which smoking is prohibited.

Major American hotel chains like Marriott, Westin and Hyatt today prohibit smoking entirely on the premises, adds Hausner, who chairs the Israel Council for the Prevention of Smoking. There are certain US states that already completely prohibit smoking in hotels. Some chains even fine guests who smoke in officially smoke-free rooms, charging them for cleaning and detoxification costs of between $50 and $100.

Israeli law bans smoking in all public places, including lobbies (except for a special smoking room that is closed and ventilated), but there is no prohibition on smoking in individual rooms or a legal obligation to allocate no-smoking rooms to guests who want them.

If a hotel decides voluntarily to set aside rooms where it is prohibited to light up, they should be marked clearly, and staffers should check to see whether there are signs of cigarette butts, concludes Hausner – adding that if a guest requests a smoke-free room and it is not one, the hotel faces lawsuits on the basis of violation of consumer regulations.

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DEEP FRIES & PROSTATE CANCER

Regular consumption of deep-fried foods such as French fries, fried chicken and doughnuts is known to raise the risk of obesity – but now, US researchers say it is also associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. In addition, the effect appears to be slightly stronger for more aggressive forms of the disease, according to a study by investigators at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

While previous studies have suggested that eating foods made with high-heat cooking methods, such as grilled meats, may increase the risk of prostate cancer, this is the first study to examine the addition of deep frying to the equation. The researchers found that men who reported eating deep-fried food at least once a week were at an increased risk of prostate cancer, as compared to men who said they ate such foods less than once a month.

In particular, men who ate one or more of these foods at least weekly had an increased risk of prostate cancer that ranged from 30 percent to 37%. Weekly consumption of these foods was associated also with a slightly greater risk of more aggressive prostate cancer.

The researchers controlled for factors such as age, race, family history of prostate cancer, body mass index and PSA screening history when calculating the association between eating deep-fried foods and prostate cancer risk. The link between prostate cancer and select deep-fried foods appeared to be limited to the highest level of consumption – defined in the study as more than once a week – which suggests that regular consumption of deep-fried foods confers particular risk for developing prostate cancer.

In discussing possible mechanisms behind the increased cancer risk, the researchers suggest that when oil is heated to temperatures suitable for deep frying, potentially carcinogenic compounds can form in the fried food. They include acrylamide (found in carbohydrate- rich foods such as French fries), heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (chemicals formed when meat is cooked at high temperatures), aldehyde (an organic compound found in perfume) and acrolein (a chemical found in herbicides).

These toxic compounds increase with reuse of oil and increased length of frying time.

Foods cooked with high heat also contain high levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which have been associated with chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. Deep-fried foods are among the highest in AGE content. A chicken breast deep fried for 20 minutes contains more than nine times the amount of AGEs in a chicken breast boiled for an hour, for example.

For the study, Dr. Janet Stanford and colleagues analyzed data from two prior population-based case-control studies involving a total of 1,549 men diagnosed with prostate cancer and 1,492 age-matched healthy controls.

The subjects were Seattle-area residents who ranged in age from 35 to 74 years. Participants were asked to fill out a dietary questionnaire about their usual food intake, including specific deep fried foods.

The researchers said they believed it was the first study to look at the association between intake of deep-fried food and risk of prostate cancer. Deep-fried foods have previously been linked to cancers of the breast, lung, pancreas, head and neck, and esophagus.

Because such foods are primarily eaten outside the home, it is possible that the link between these foods and prostate cancer risk may be a sign of high consumption of fast foods in general, the authors wrote, citing the dramatic increase in fast-food restaurants and fastfood consumption in the US in the past several decades.

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