Passive smoking may not directly cause certain diseases related to smoking, but it gives you a chance of developing anything smoking-related, at a higher rate. Studies have shown and confirmed an increased risk in the following:
In infancy and children:
o birth defects
o sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
o low birthweight
o illnesses in children
o middle ear infection
o learning difficulty
o behavior problems (i.e. depression, anxiety and immaturity)
o asthma (induction & aggravation)
o bronchitis (induction & aggravation)
o pneumonia (induction & aggravation)
o Meningococcal infections in children
o Cancers and leukaemia in children
o heart disease
o lung cancer
o nasal cancer
o spontaneous abortion (miscarriage)
o asthma exacerbation in adults
o cystic fibrosis (exacerbation)
o decreased lung function
o cervical cancer
o ear infections
o chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
o allergies and death of children
o aggravation of asthma, allergies, and other conditions
Passive Smoking and Lung Cancer
Non-smokers have a twenty-five percent increased risk of lung cancer when exposed to passive smoking in the home. In a press release by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 9, 1998, it said that the increased risk of lung cancer among non-smoking spouses of smokers was estimated at sixteen percent and in the workplace, an estimated increased risk of seventeen percent. In 2002, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the WHO, a group of 29 experts from 12 countries, convened by the Monographs Programme. They reviewed all major published evidence related to tobacco smoking and cancer.
These meta-analyses show that there is a statistically significant and consistent association between lung cancer risk in spouses of smokers and exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke from the spouse who smokes. The excess risk is of the order of 20% for women and 30% for men and remains after controlling for some potential sources of bias and confounding.
Passive Smoking and other Cancers
Conventional studies tend to focus on finding the health effects of ETS on the respiratory system. Newer studies have found associations between passive smoking and cervical, bladder, nasal-sinus, and brain cancer.
Among active smokers, there is recorded a risk of cancer to:
o the renal pelvis (part of the ureter that receives urine from the kidney),
o possibly the renal adenocarcinoma (the glands of the kidney),
o parts of the mouth and throat such as the lip, oropharynx (the back of the mouth), larynx (voice box), and hypopharynx (area below the pharynx or throat),
o the esophageal (tube from the pharynx to the stomach)
o stomach, liver and pancreas.
Passive Smoking and Heart Disease
In the early 1990s, studies by Glantz and Parmley estimated that the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States was heart disease. The first two were active smoking and alcohol abuse. It was also found out that non-smokers living with smokers had an increased risk of heart disease of around 30%.
An examination of a large sample in the United States also showed an elevated heart disease risk of around 20%. Knowing how pervasive heart disease is among non-smokers in the United States, a 20% additional risk is very significant.
From then on, researches have proven conclusively that there is not just an increased risk of heart disease but that the risks are non-linear. The increased risks and effects on the heart are unlike that of lung cancer where the risk is almost in proportion to the exposure. In passive smoking, the risk of heart disease may be half that of someone smoking 20 cigarettes a day even though that person is only inhaling 1% of the smoke. New studies reveal that exposure to ETS also causes platelet aggregation, a condition where the blood starts to thicken, and a narrowing of arteries and blood flow reduction when endothelial cells dysfunction.
Passive smoking kills an estimated 53,000 non-smokers per year. It is the 3rd leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.