Skip navigation
C. Why Those Exposed to Secondhand Smoke Should Take Vitamin C

Narrator: This is Science Today. If you often find yourself in a situation where you're exposed to secondhand smoke, you should start taking more Vitamin C. Gladys Block, a professor of nutritional epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley's School of Public Health, says that increasing your Vitamin C intake reduces oxidative damage that can lead to diseases like cancer and heart disease.

Block: One of the mechanisms that probably leads to that increased risk of those diseases is oxidative damage. And what that means is something in cigarette smoke-free radicals, very active molecules-can damage your cell membranes, can damage your DNA.

Narrator: In a study, secondhand smokers took a 'cocktail' of various vitamin supplements - the thought being it would work better than vitamin C alone to reduce oxidative damage.

Block: We had started off with the assumption that the cocktail, the mixture C and E and other lipid antioxidants, would work better than the C alone because there's data that suggests that they work together. But in fact, the cocktail didn't work any more effectively that the Vitamin C alone, which leads me to think maybe it's the Vitamin C that's actually doing the work.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.