Nutrition, antioxidants, and risk factor profile of nonsmokers, passive smokers and smokers of the Prevention Education Program (PEP) in Nuremberg, Germany

Prev Med. 2002 Jun;34(6):600-7. doi: 10.1006/pmed.2002.1024.


Background: An elevated risk for coronary artery disease and lung cancer was reported for smokers and nonsmokers exposed to environmental tobacco smoke. Particularly in nonsmokers, in addition to the adverse effects of tobacco smoke, other factors which are associated with the exposure to environmental tobacco smoke may contribute to the health risks. We investigated both by questionnaires and biochemical analyses whether smokers influence the dietary habits of nonsmokers living in the same household.

Methods: The study population was a subgroup of the Prevention Education Program in Nuremberg: 817 adults aged 27-66 years were allocated to one of the four groups: Nonsmokers living with a nonsmoker (Group 1), nonsmokers living with a smoker (Group 2), smokers living with a nonsmoker (Group 3), and smokers living with a smoker (Group 4).

Results: The four groups did not differ in the body mass index, the concentration of lycopene, all-trans-retinol, and selenium in plasma. Plasma concentrations of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, homocysteine, cobalamin, folate, beta-carotene, and alpha-tocopherol showed a gradient to unfavorable levels from Group 1 to Group 4. This trend was also reflected in the reported dietary intake of beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, ascorbic acid, fiber, and linoleic acid.

Conclusions: Our data show that nonsmokers living with smokers indulge in less healthy dietary habits than nonsmokers living with nonsmokers. This has to be considered when evaluating the health risks of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Coronary Disease / etiology
  • Coronary Disease / prevention & control*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Health Education*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Vitamins / blood


  • Antioxidants
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Vitamins