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A recent mogasp blog – 2011-11-28 Patch: “St. Charles County Council to Consider Smoking Ban Monday Night Smoke-free bills appear deadlocked at 3-3 ..” elicited a fair number of comments, leading eventually to a smoke-free air opponent, Michael McFadden, questioning whether complaints from smoke-sensitive asthmatics about SHS weren’t at least in part psycological, i.e. not really a medical problem at all.
In support of this contention Mr. McFadden provided references to a number of peer-reviewed papers published in the 1970s, as well as direct quotes.
It’s an interesting argument having some potential legitimacy. The question is, does it amount to enough of an argument to negate the efforts of asthmatics or others with medical conditions who claim that exposure to SHS is highly detrimental to their health, and can trigger an asthma attack, for example.
Following is Mr. McFadden’s argument. It will be interesting to see if others can provide scientific evidence to counter it.
Michael J. McFadden
Submitted on 2011/12/15 at 1:55 am
Quoted elsewhere by “Walt”
“Luparello et al(1968) measured changes in airway resistance directly by body plethysmography. They showed that asthmatic subjects reacted with increased airway resistance when given nebulized saline to inhale and told it was the allergen … associated with his attacks. 19 of 40 asthmatics showed a significant increase in airway resistance and 12 developed attacks of bronchial spasm which were reversed with an inhaled saline placebo. … In another study, isoprenaline and carbachol were each presented to 20 asthmatic subjects by inhalation. Each drug was presented twice under double-blind conditions. [First] the subject was told that it was a bronchodilator that would open his airways and make it easier to breathe and in the other, he was told it was a bronchoconstrictor. The suggestion produced significant changes in response to the drugs in the direction that had been suggested.”
This leads the author (Cohen) to opine about studies on the subject of conditioning that showed that hay fever sufferers who knew a particular flower caused attacks could get an attack by merely being shown a paper imitation of that flower. Citing Vaughn, 1939 and an 1886 (not a typo) study by MacKenzie.
Per “Anxiety Reduction in Asthma” Kinsman et al, Psychcosom Res, 1980
Luparello’s findings were repeated by:
Spector et al “Response of asthmatics to methacholine and suggestion,” Am Rev Resp Dis, 113; 1976
Strupp et al, “Effects of suggestion on total respiratory resistance in mild asthmatics,” Psychosom Res, 18; 1974
Phillipp et al “Suggestion and relaxation in asthmatics,” Psychosom Res 16; 1972
(Above offered in support of my contention that the anxiety/stress/fear brought on by the antismoking movement may actually cause MORE attacks today than smoke.)
mogasp comment: Your thesis may or may not have validity. You are quoting research dating to the 1970s and I don’t know if those conclusions are still current.
The paper you reference in your initial comment actually opens with a quote from Moses Maimonides (1135-1204)! That could mean that little has changed in the understanding of this disease or that it is complex and our knowledge has improved. It may well be that in some cases psychological factors play a role, but I don’t view the evidence you present as a valid response to efforts to provide smoke-free air.
I know several very smoke-sensitive asthmatics and also a person who is a former smoker, now a laryngectomy survivor, and I don’t view any of them as having been influenced by “the antismoking movement.” On the contrary, they have become active in promoting smoke-free air as a result of the effect of SHS on their health and welfare.