One smoker increases health risk to nonsmokers

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By Jennifer Yue

Many factors cause cancer. From manmade chemicals to environmental exposure, secondhand smoke contributes to health problems that affect the respiratory system, cardiac function and cancers.

Secondhand smoke is the most common cause of tobacco intake. While there are devices that can test for indoor chemicals and smoke, there are nearly no safety measures when encountering smoke outdoors. Because smoke can be anywhere at any time, even breathing in a little bit can be harmful.

Secondhand smoking occurs in common places such as homes, workplaces, restaurants and outdoor areas. The Surgeon General wrote “secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in adults who don’t smoke. [By] breathing in secondhand smoke at home or at work, [it] may increase your chances of getting lung cancer by up to 20 percent to 30 percent.”

Secondhand smoke also affects children who are normally around parents who are smokers. “More that 40 percent of children who go to the emergency room for asthma live with smokers,” wrote the Surgeon General. Therefore, smoke exposure could hinder child development.

When a nonsmoker inhales secondhand smoke, the nicotine in the smoke begins to break down in the body. Nicotine is a chemical compound that causes cigarette addiction. Researchers have suggested a link between nicotine and the likelihood of developing lung cancer.

Secondhand smoke is harmful for everyone, affecting children, nonsmokers and especially smokers. To prevent family, friends and other from developing lung cancer, speak with your health care provider for advice to stop smoking.

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This post is also available in: Chinese

About Ling-Mei Wong 黃靈美

Editor of the Sampan, the only bilingual Chinese-English newspaper in New England

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