This student generated Discovery Lab seeks to prove that although smoking is prevalent in the college community, it is detrimental to health. Through analysis of heart rates of smokers and non-smokers before and after exercise, we seek to prove that smoking has a negative effect on heart rate.
Smoking is one of the largest problems in the United States. There are constant lawsuits over the effects smoking has on people. Smoking is the largest leading cause of death in the US; it causes many different kinds of diseases and health problems. In college dorms we are all living in a small space where different people have different preferences. This leads to the question of just how much effect does smoking cigarettes have on general health.
To narrow down the study, we choose to pick a few health factors to test and prove our hypothesis. We believe that a first-hand smoker will suffer worse the worst consequences. In order to test this we will need a significant pool of people who smoke. These people can be found in the designated smoking dorms. Another issue we will confront is the effect of smoke on non-smokers. There will be those that live in a smoking dorm and those that live in a non-smoking dorm. We predict that those who live in a smoking dorm or are frequently around smokers will suffer a decrease in health over time. Those who do not encounter second-hand smoke frequently will show no difference in health conditions.
From media we are aware that smoking cigarettes has an effect on health. We want to further examine the specifics on people, challenging the facts with our own data. We hope that this will hit home more when smokers find out truly how much damage we predict smoking cigarettes causes. By determining our data from research off of our peers, this should be more effective than a less personal statistic in the media.
Smoking is "the largest preventable cause of death and disability in developed countries"(National Cancer Institute, 1), and is a large problem in the United States. Smoking causes 400,000 (or approximately one out of every five) deaths yearly in the United States, in addition to many diseases and health problems, such as coronary heart disease and an increased risk of heart attack. This occurs as a result of smoke lowering the quantities of antioxidants in the bloodstream, which help to protect the heart. Without antioxidants in the bloodstream, or with lowered amounts, the heart is more prone to disease. Smoking also increases the risk of emphysema and cancer. Specifically, the nicotine in tobacco products such as cigarettes affects the brain, muscles and cardiovascular system as well as altering one's mood, anxiety and stress levels, anxiety, behavior and cognitive processes. In addition, smokers do not pose a health risk just to themselves, but also to the people around them. Passive or second hand smokers run the same health risks as smokers just from inhaling other's cigarettes smoke, including irritation of the eyes, nose, and respiratory tract (especially the aggravation of conditions such as asthma and emphysema). Second-hand smoke also has tentative links to diverse ailments such as various cancers, strokes, and sudden infant death syndrome. Unfortunately, nicotine is also extremely addictive and habit forming, so much so that although every year 15 million Americans try to quit smoking, less than 3% are successful in the long-term. Indeed, according to the Federal government, "the pharmacological and behavioral processes that determine tobacco addiction are similar to those that determine addiction to drugs such as heroin and cocaine". So cigarettes combine an amazing lethality with a high addiction rate, and are extremely obtainable and legal.
Relevance of Topic:
Many studies have been done to prove that smoking is dangerous to the health of both smokers and non-smokers. Even most smokers will admit that smoking is not a healthy activity, but there has not been a significant decline in the number of smokers. For all of these reasons, our student-generated lab is pertinent and important, especially within our peer group. Recent surveys indicate that 44.1% of eighth-graders, 44.1% of tenth-graders, and 64.6% of high school seniors have smoked at least one cigarette. 17.5 % of eighth-graders, 25.7% of tenth-graders, and 34.6% of seniors smoke regularly, and 3.3% of eighth-graders, 7.6% of tenth-graders, and 13.2% of seniors smoke at least a pack per day. These figures, taken from a 1999 survey of Michigan students, seem somewhat frightening, as they indicate that, by age 18, almost one-third of the population smokes. The problem is not confined solely to Michigan, or the United States, for that matter. Smoking is prevalent worldwide as well, making our research relevant not only on a local, but a global scale. There is evidence that quitting smoking at an early age (or never beginning) greatly reduces any long-term detrimental health effects. It is our hope that the results of our study, since they will be taken from the Western population, will further encourage people to stop smoking. From media we are aware that smoking cigarettes has an effect on health. We want to further examine the specifics on people, challenging the facts with our own data. We hope that this will hit home more when smokers find out truly how much damage we predict smoking cigarettes causes. By determining our data from research off of our peers, this should be more effective than a less personal statistic in the media. In addition, in college dorms we all live in small communal spaces where different people have different preferences, and our decisions effect each other. This leads to the question of just how much of an effect second hand smoke has on non-smoking students' general health. If we do indeed find that smoking greatly effects the health of non-smokers, we hope that smokers will realize the harmful effect that their smoking has on nonsmokers and will make a conscious effort not to smoke in nonsmoking areas.
We believe that a first-hand smoker will suffer worse the worst consequences. Another issue we will confront is the effect of smoke on non-smokers. There will be those that live in a smoking dorm and those that live in a non-smoking dorm. We predict that those who live in a smoking dorm or are frequently around smokers will suffer a decrease in health over time. Those who do not encounter second-hand smoke frequently will show no difference in health conditions.
To narrow down the study, we chose to pick a few health factors to test our
- Surveys will be distributed to all of Western Campus (Halls - Peabody, Mary Lyon and McKee) in order to establish one large research population
The Survey Questions are as follows:
2. Weight (if you don't mind us asking)?
3. Have you smoked at least 100 cigarettes in your life?
4. Do you smoke now?
5. About how long has it been since you last smoked cigarettes regularly?
6. Do you live with someone who smokes?
7. Do you live in a smoking or non-smoking dorm?
8. How often are/were you recently exposed to cigarette smoke?
9. During the past year have you had any upper respiratory infections? If
so, how many?
10. Please rate your health level from on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being
the healthiest, and 1 being the least healthy)
11. Please note your current pulse rate (beats per minute)
- Each student will fill out his or her survey on-site
- - We will test around 40 students from around Western Campus.
We will be measuring heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration rate.
- The subjects will have the measurements taken before and after the short
exercise. For the short exercise, the subjects will walk up a flight a
stairs at a fast pace and they will stop at a set point.
- We will also measure their heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration
rate of smokers before and after smoking a cigarette.
We received surveys back from 29 students living in McKee, Mary Lyon and Peabody.
We divided those who turned in surveys by their status (smoker or non-smoker) in order to determine the general population who turned back surveys. The following histogram shows that distribution:
As this histogram shows, we had six smokers and twenty three non-smokers respond to the survey. The majority of the respondents are non-smokers.
First, we looked at the heart rate reported by the smokers and compared those numbers to the heart rates reported by the non-smokers.
Although not statistically significantly different, the heart rates of the smokers are slightly higher on average then those of the smokers. However, statistically, the heart rates of the smokers and non-smokers are equivilent.
Next, we analyzed the number of repiratory infections reported by smokers versus the number of respiratory infections reported by non-smokers
Again there was no significant statistical difference between the two, but the non-smoker average was higher then the smokers. So statistically, smokers and non-smokers reported equal numbers of respiratory infections.
We tested twenty smokers and twenty non-smokers from Mary Lyon, McKee and Peabody.
When analyzing our experimental data, we first examined the change in heart rate in smokers and non-smokers from before walking the stairs to afterwards.
Although there is not statistical significant difference between the two changes in pulse rate, the smoker average change in pulse rate is higher than that of the non-smoker average change. Since they are not statistically different, the heart rate change for smokers and non-smokers are essentially equal.
In additon, we also examined the pre-exercise and post-exercise heart rates for both smokers and non-smokers.
Again, there is no significant statistical difference between the smoker and non-smoker heart rates either pre or post-exercise. (Although they are again statistically equal, the non-smoking heart rate is higher both before and after exercise, and there is a larger difference between the smokers before and after then the non-smoker before and after pulse rates.)
While we were doing data analysis, we spotted an interesting trend in our data which we wanted to further explore. We found that, according to our data, womenís heart rate averages (for both those who do and do not smoke) were higher then the menís heart rate averages.
We found these results intriguing, as sex was something that we noted in our experiments, but had not focused on in them. We wondered if it was normal for men and women to not have the same average heart rate, and if so, why. So we did a bit more research and learned that men and women usually have the average adult heart rate of 60-100 beats/minute. Research indicates that women do take smaller and shorter puff's than men, which means that they (on average) take in less nicotine. Also, although women report more severe withdrawal symptoms then men and report greater relief from those symptoms when they smoke, womenís physiological responses to smoking - the form of heart rate, blood pressure, and skin temperature changes ñ are not significantly different than the men's were. So the womenís heart rates should not have been higher then the menís. And, since women on average take in less nicotine then men when they smoke, the women smokers heart rates should actually have been less then that of the men in order for our data to correlate with previous research.
Our data shows that there is no difference in heart rate between the smokers and non-smokers that participated in our experiment.
Possible Sources of Error:
Within our project there were many sources that may have contributed to the errors that we encountered and the lack of any significant differences between smokers and non-smokers. To begin with, there were many outside factors that were not considered. We did not take into account physical fitness and we did not make sure that our subjects were relaxed and inactive prior to the actual experiment. This means that there are most likely rate differences that are mostly unaccounted for. This could explain the reason that the heart rates of both smokers and nonsmokers are almost on identical levels, even though the smokers should have higher heart rates due to the higher activity level that smoking forces upon the heart. We also relied on human judgement regarding the heart rate, because the machine that we attempted to use could not store multiple values and we could not convince our subjects to walk to Boyd to then walk stairs for us. It is possible that Laurie (who we had record all of the pulses for us) was completely accurate, but this does create a potential instance of human error.
We also have trouble stemming from our use of surveys as data sources because some of our survey questions are a bit ambiguous and open to interpretation from the people that filled the survey out. This creates a source of error because different respondents answer the questions differently. Another source of difference originates in our ignorance of the effects of a smoking environment as opposed to a non-smoking environment in the experiment proper. This creates an occasion for the heart rates of smokers and non-smokers to come to an equilibrium. We also did not specify a pace or a time for completion of the stairs in the experiment. This meant that some people did more work than others, and had a higher heart rate because of this.
In order to address all the sources of error in our project and create an experiment that is not automatically biased by one source or another, it would be necessary to: divide people up by level of physical fitness and the environment in which they live, have them rest for a few minutes in order to let their heart rates reach a resting rate, then have them walk the stairs within a certain time frame and take the pulses with the machine to eliminate all sources of human error involved in that step of the experiment.
With time, and a few more attempts and better data recognizance and extraction on our parts, it would be possible to create a project with much less room for error. Our current project lacks the required equipment, and when we started the project we lacked the knowledge required to draft a project resistant to these errors. If another attempt were to be made, an experiment that encompassed and accounted for all the sources of error could be completed.
Results and Conclusions:
Overall, our data shows that there is no statistical difference between the heart rate of smokers and non-smokers.
The way our data turned out brought up a lot of questions. Most of our data goes against our hypothesis, and is directly in opposition to data other (more experienced and certified) scientists have collected. Often our data seemed to indicate the opposite of our hypothesis ñ that smoking was good for your health ñ although the differences were not enough to be statistically significant.
The way our data came out posed many questions on how reliant our experimental design was (discussed under the Possible Sources of Error heading).
In addition, studying our data also brought up more questions. We were intrigued by the difference between heart rate in males versus heart rate in females. Although we decided to looked further into that question to try to discover why our data showed a large visible difference between heart rate in males and females, we would have liked to further examine this issue. Another interesting part of our data that would tie into gender and heart rate would be to combine those statistics with whether each male or female smoked.
One of our main objectives in our experiment, other than collecting and analyzing data, was to show our peers in Western that smoking negatively effects their health. Although our experiment did not prove our hypothesis and our design most likely included more error than not, we still hope to impact those who choose to smoke. Seeing us conduct this experiment, and in some cases, participating in it, will hopefully raise awareness to the issue of the dangers of smoking. Our data did not prove anything conclusively, but there are many articles and a vast amount of research on the hazard of smoking, and we hope that our peers will begin to look further into the issue. (Because although smoking may not be currently affecting their health, chances are it will in the future.)
Our lab had the promise of demonstrating to our peers that smoking was bad for their health. Unfortunately, our data did not support the conclusion that we had hoped for. Instead, we are left thinking about what happened in our experiment to make our results turn out the way they did, what we could have done to alter them by a different experimental design, and what more there is out there to do to further our quest to prove what we believe. Although our data did not support our hypothesis, than we can only hope that some where in our search for data that at some moment when a smoker was running the stairs he or she will think about his or decision to smoke. We also hope that as a nonsmoker was running the stairs that they are thankful that they do not smoke and thankful that the heavy breathing they feel, even when they do not smoke, has not been worsened by smoking.
Changes in Cigarette-Related Disease Risks and Their Implication for Prevention and Control by the National Cancer Institute. NIH Publication 97-4213, February 1997.
"Environmental Tobacco Smoke: Health Risk or Hype?" American Council on Science and Health. http://www.acsh.org/publications/booklets/ets.html
Federal Register: August 11, 1995 (Volume 60, Number 155). Page 41534 From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov] DOCID:fr11au95-13
Federal Register: August 11, 1995 (Volume 60, Number 155). Page 41621-41643 From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov] DOCID:fr11au95-20
"Smoking" from WebMD online reference encyclopedia.
Survey conducted by University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, results found at http://www.nida.nih.gov/Infofax/tobacco.html.
For Further Info on this Topic, Check out this WWW Site: http://www.smokingstinks.org
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