The Dangers of Secondhand Smoking, Involuntary and Lethal
According to research published in Tobacco Control, the dangers of secondhand smoking include a potentially 51-percent higher risk of developing oral cancer.
According to a recent meta-analysis published in the journal Tobacco Control, exposure to secondhand smoke increases the individual risk of developing oral cancer by 51 percent.
The international team of research scientists included Global Observatory on Pollution and Health Co-Director Kurt Straif, M.D.
Earlier studies had proven that secondhand smoke can cause many diseases, including lung cancer.
The purpose behind the research was to establish whether passive smoking could cause oral cancer, as active smoking does.
The team analyzed five relevant studies carried out in Asia, Europe, North America, and Latin America. They involved a total of 6,977 people.
The 3,452 individuals who’d experienced frequent exposure to secondhand smoke had a 51-percent higher risk of developing oral cancer than the other 3,522 participants.
And those whose exposure to secondhand smoke continued longer than 10 or 15 years had twice the oral-cancer risk of non-exposed individuals.
What is Secondhand Smoking?
Secondhand smoke (SHS), or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), is basically a mixture of two forms of tobacco smoke:
● The mainstream smoke a smoker exhales.
● The sidestream smoke going into the air directly from a burning tobacco product. It contains higher concentrations of nicotine and carcinogens than mainstream smoke.
Exposure to either form of SHS is termed “involuntary smoking” or “passive smoking.”
Nonsmokers who inhale smoke involuntarily get nicotine and toxic chemicals just as smokers do. The more SHS they inhale, the greater the number of toxins that accumulate in their bodies.
What Are the Dangers of Secondhand Smoking?
No level of SHS exposure is safe. Secondhand smoke can contain over 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds are toxins, and close to 70 are carcinogenic.
During the 50 years after the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report, 2.5 million nonsmoking adults died from breathing secondhand smoke.
Health Effects in Adults
In adults who have never smoked in their lives, the dangers of secondhand smoking include:
○ Eight thousand yearly deaths result from SHS.
● Heart disease
○ For adults who don’t smoke, breathing secondhand smoke can induce hypertension and immediate cardiovascular harm.
○ Thirty-four thousand cases of premature deaths from heart disease each year in the United States among adults who don’t smoke.
○ Mere exposure to SHS at work or home could induce a 25-30% increase in the risk of developing heart disease.
● Lung cancer
○ Seven thousand three hundred deaths from lung cancer among people who don’t smoke but have exposure to SHS.
Health Effects in Infants and Children
● During pregnancy, SHS results in more than 1,000 infant deaths annually.
○ Pregnant women exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to have smaller newborns with an increased risk of health complications.
● Infants exposed to SHS have a significantly higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS),
○ The toxic smoke appears to interfere with the brain’s regulation of the infants’ breathing.
○ Infants who die from SIDS usually have higher nicotine and cotinine concentrations than infants who die from other causes.
● SHS exposure causes multiple health problems in infants and young children, including:
○ Bronchitis, pneumonia, and other acute respiratory infections.
○ Ear infections
○ Respiratory symptoms, such as coughing and wheezing
● Secondhand smoke puts asthmatic children at risk of more serious and frequent attacks.
Perspectives and Solutions:
Secondhand smoking issues usually arise:
For any non-smoking adult, the dangers of secondhand smoking are greatest in the workplace. Fortunately, studies show the adoption of many current smoke-free policies.
In public places:
Everyone can be at risk to SHS in public. The Surgeon General proposed that people choose smoke-free restaurants and businesses for personal and family safety.
Keeping your home smoke-free could be one of the most important things you can do. It’s an investment in the health of your family, your guests, and even your pets!
Fortunately, SHS exposure has been declining steadily. Between 1988 to 1991, almost 88 percent of nonsmokers had remains of cotinine in their bodies.
However, between 2011 and to 2014, awareness and regulation had reduced nonsmokers with measurable cotinine levels to 25 percent. But we have much more to do!
The best protection from SHS is a healthy life routine. Avoid public places where smoking is allowed, especially when you’re with children or those who are immunocompromised.
Even if you choose to smoke, avoid doing so around others, and keep your home and car smoke-free. Your children and other family members, pets, guests, and even the rest of the world will thank you for it!