Second hand smoke has long been considered a dangerous air contaminant that holds many health threats with repeated exposure to it, but now, a new study from Chinese researchers suggest that there may be even more health risks associated with second hand smoke exposure than originally thought.
According to the study, people who are regularly around second hand smoke may actually have increased risks of many various causes of death, not just lung damage and cancer. An increased risk of lung cancer and heart disease has long been linked to exposure to second hand smoke for adults that work and live in smoky environments, but now it is thought that they also may be more likely to die from emphysema and stroke.
Both strokes and emphysema are diseases that are linked to smoking, but the link between second hand smoke and these diseases have always been weak until now. While the Chinese researchers could not definitively prove that secondhand smoke causes strokes and emphysema directly, their research did find that second hand smoke exposure did play a large role in other health factors such as cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
A number of studies conducted across the world have already confirmed that non-smokers that regularly are exposed to second hand smoke have a much higher risk of lung cancer, tumours in the lungs, and of developing heart disease. In fact, the Surgeon General in the US stated just this year that there was very strong ‘suggestive’ evidence that secondhand smoke may also increase the risk of emphysema, COPD, and stroke.
However, the evidence offered by the US was not strong enough to say there was a relationship instead of a suggestion, but according to Cohen the Chinese study helps to build the case for one. Cohen also pointed out that the study originated in China which also happens to be the country that has the most smokers and the least tobacco control, allowing it to be the perfect place to study the effects of second hand smoking.
The study results included 910 adults that were mentored over the course of two decades. Out of the adults in the study 53% reported that they inhaled smoke in their work environment and another 44% said that a smoker lived in their home with them.