10 Adverse Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke

Smoking is bad for your health, so much so that even cigarette brands warn the public about the bad habit’s consequences. However, did you know avoiding tobacco products is not enough? The mere exposure to secondhand smoke increases your risk of severe health complications. So, yes, smoking does not only affect smokers; it also impacts the lives of your household members, friends, co-workers, and strangers who inhale the smoke-filled air. 

Some states protect their locals with comprehensive smoke-free laws, which prohibits smoking in public places and workplaces. Still, 22 out of 50 states lack comprehensive smoke-free laws, leaving millions of American men, women, and children vulnerable to secondhand smoke and the diseases it causes.

Top 10 Dangers of Secondhand Smoke

Exposure to secondhand smoke can cause these conditions and diseases:

1. Lung Cancer

According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in the United States, and secondhand smoke is a principal contributor. Nonsmokers who receive constant exposure to secondhand smoke are inhaling many of the cancer-causing substances and poisons smokers do. Each year, an estimated 7,300 lung cancer deaths occur as a result of secondhand tobacco smoke.

2. Heart Disease

Despite popular disbelief, breathing in secondhand smoke harms more than your lungs. Your heart takes a serious hit, too. Inhaling secondhand smoke causes immediate side effects to your cardiovascular system, often inducing coronary heart disease and stroke. Tobacco smoke-filled air is responsible for about 34,000 premature deaths from heart disease annually in the United States among nonsmokers. That is 20 times more than the number of people who died when the Titanic sank.

3. Stroke

Continuing the issue between secondhand smoke and heart disease, take note that you must take precautions if you work or reside in any of the 22 states that have not passed a comprehensive smoke-free law. Exposure to secondhand smoke raises your risk of disability and death from stroke by 20 to 30 percent.

4. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

If you smoke, your baby could be in more danger within the corners of your home. Secondhand smoke intensifies the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, which is the unexplained and unanticipated passing of an infant. SIDS is the number one cause of death in otherwise healthy babies between the ages of 0 to 1. As if being a new mom or dad wasn’t terrifying enough! It is estimated that 25 percent of all SIDS deaths are associated with tobacco smoke.

5. Asthma

Chronic, common, and sometimes fatal — asthma is a serious disease. The bad news is, this respiratory condition can worsen from exposure to secondhand smoke. More than 25 million people in America suffer from asthma and the breathing problems that come with it. Once you add to the equation smoke-filled air, asthma attacks will occur more regularly.

Keep in mind that secondhand smoke may cause healthy children to develop asthma. Young boys and girls who inhale secondhand smoke are more prone to getting bronchitis, pneumonia, breathing problems that persist or worsen, and weak lung function. These children are also more likely to contract middle ear infections.

6. Diabetes

Smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke may double your risk for type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, they can aggravate the complications of diabetes, such as heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, blindness, and reduced blood flow to the legs and feet (which can lead to infections and amputation). 

These findings might come as a surprise to many people, claims Frank Hu, MD, PhD, MPH, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, and a co-author of this research. In most cases, people consider excess weight as a major perpetrator of type 2 diabetes. While the latter is true, tobacco smoke is also to blame, and his analysis strengthens the link. Dr. Hu says, “I think this is another reason to stop smoking.”

7. Blindness

The smoke emitted from cigarettes harms almost every organ in your body — including your eyes. And yes, exposure to secondhand smoke can lead to blindness. It impairs your vision gradually, causing eye conditions and diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy — all of which can result in vision loss. 

8. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is an obstructive lung disease that disrupts your breathing. About 80 percent of COPD cases are a result of cigarette smoking. It can cause long-term disability, and it is also the fourth leading cause of premature death in the United States.

COPD manifests itself by making it difficult to stay active. At first, you might start noticing that playing with your grandchild is becoming tiring. Then, climbing a set of stairs or walking to get the newspaper is — all of a sudden — too exhausting or impossible. This disease leaves many people stuck in their homes, powerless to do the things they love or see the world.

9. Premature, Low Birthweight Babies

To make matters worse than it already is, secondhand smoke can affect a person inside the womb. Pregnant women who are exposed to tobacco smoke have a higher risk of delivering low birthweight babies. Little ones born too small can have health complications, such as immature lungs, infections, bleeding inside the brain, and several others. 

10. Other Types of Cancer, Including of the Colon, Liver, Stomach, Pancreas, and Cervix

Exposure to secondhand smoke makes you and those around you predisposed to having — not just lung cancer — but the many different types of malignant diseases. For both cancer patients and survivors, breathing in tobacco smoke increases the odds of developing a second primary cancer.

The Bottom Line

Smoking causes several life-threatening conditions and at least a dozen cancers, including colorectal and liver, and decreases the survival rates for prostate cancer. If you are a smoker, now is the time to quit and save you, your friends, family, and everyone else around you. We encourage you to read 10 Fail Proof Strategies to Quit Smoking to start your journey. 

About New Hope Unlimited

Did you receive a cancer diagnosis? Here at New Hope Unlimited, we offer a unique combination of conventional, alternative, and holistic treatment programs that assist in restoring the body’s cancer-free condition. Call 480-666-1403 today to schedule your consultation. 

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