In general, people are always more focused on the health risks of smoking itself, although secondhand smoke is also hazardous and may lead to serious health consequences. Secondhand smoke is also referred to as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) which means exposure to pollutants in the air from tobacco products. In other words, you are not the one lighting up, but involuntarily or passively smoking.
And, as there are no safe levels of inhaling secondhand smoke, it is key that you protect yourself by minding your surroundings. Otherwise, your health may be jeopardized and may develop some serious health issues. To learn more, continue reading below.
Health Hazards of Secondhand Smoke
Tobacco smoke contains around a whopping 7,000 toxic chemicals including hundreds of known toxins of which 70 are linked to cancer. Hence, we can easily conclude that secondhand smoke is a very dangerous respiratory irritant that can affect our health and potentially cause serious health conditions, including:
- Respiratory Problems
People exposed to secondhand smoke have an increased risk of developing a lung infection. Unfortunately, it can lead to numerous chronic lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic inflammation, bronchitis, pneumonia, allergies, and recurrent infections.
The reason why you may develop these respiratory problems is the fact that secondhand smoke increases mucous production and causes lung cilia lining impairment and injury, oxidative damage, and immune cell reactivity.
Even though you may think that only people who smoke are prone to developing cancer, the truth is that secondhand smoke can also cause cancer. To be more specific, it increases the risk by 20% to 30%. This happens because the chemicals contained in secondhand smoke change the environment of the lungs leading to DNA mutations, epigenetic changes, and immune dysfunction. All these together lead to lung cancer.
The most common type of cancer caused by secondhand smoke is non-small cell lung cancer. However, it may also cause other cancer types including brain, bladder, larynx, pharynx, sinus, breast, rectum, and stomach cancer.
- Cardiovascular Disease
Finally, those exposed to secondhand smoke are also at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease. The reason for this is that secondhand smoke directly affects the blood vessels and heart tissue.
Hardening of the arteries, atherosclerosis, is also a potential health risk since chronic high blood pressure and recurrent blood vessel damage may both cause this condition. As a result, a build-up of debris and blood clots appear inside blood vessels, eventually leading to stroke or heart attack.
Preventing Secondhand Smoke Exposure
Preventing exposure is of utmost importance if you want to keep your health in optimal health. So, establish some new rules and make changes to the places you spend most time in.
For instance, forbid smoking inside your home, office, or car, and avoid going to places where people are smoking. And, if you still have to be somewhere where you would be exposed to smoke, try wearing a mask or sit or stand in a well-ventilated section.
All this considered, we can agree that the health hazards of secondhand smoke are quite serious and dangerous. Therefore, put your health first and make the needed adjustments and changes in your lifestyle to avoid secondhand smoke exposure.