Understandably, when you go to public places where people
are smoking around you, you are probably concerned that the
second-hand smoke is not only unpleasant, but also damaging
to your health (especially if your children are with you).
Without a doubt, cigarettes are horrible for the health of
smokers, increasing risks for everything from cancer to heart
disease. A recent study in the British Medical Journal
may help put your mind somewhat at ease regarding second-hand
determine the risks of long-term second-hand smoke, researchers
examined spouses of smokers for tobacco-related diseases.
Over 39 years of data were gathered on 120,000 California
adults, focusing on approximately 35,000 people who had never
smoked but had a spouse who did. The researchers wanted to
see if the spouses were at a higher risk for diseases commonly
associated with smoking.
There was no significantly increased risk for heart disease,
lung cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (all
clearly linked to smoking) in spouses of smokers than in spouses
of nonsmokers. Current or past exposure to environmental tobacco
smoke showed no significant associations to any long-term
health condition studied.
This isn't to say that second-hand smoke is harmless, though.
Other studies have shown that it may increase the risk for
respiratory problems in children and infants, and there may
be other, smaller health risks from being exposed to long-term
second-hand smoke. But the next time someone lights up near
you, no need to panic. They are doing much more damage to
their own health than to yours.
Enstrom JE, Kabat GC. Environmental tobacco
smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study
of Californians, 1960-98. British Medical Journal 2003:326,
To read about the many dangers of smoking, go to www.chiroweb.com/find/archives/general/smoking/index.html.