What the Health Risks of Secondhand Smoke?


Quick Answer

Secondhand smoke poses health risks such as cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It also causes wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks and ear infections in children. Moreover, regular exposure to smoke causes children to get sick frequently and obstructs their lungs from growing properly, leading to lung problems such as pneumonia and bronchitis.

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Full Answer

More than 7,000 chemicals comprise secondhand smoke, 70 of which can lead to cancer, notes the CDC. Millions of nonsmokers have died because of inhaling secondhand smoke. Respiratory infections and intense asthma attacks are common among children who breathe in secondhand smoke.

SIDS, or the sudden death of a baby age below 1 year, is linked to smoking during pregnancy or exposure of infants to secondhand smoke, according to the CDC. Smoke contains harmful chemicals that affect a baby's brain and proper regulation of breathing.

When inhaled, secondhand smoke immediately causes negative effects to the body and hampers the healthy functioning of the blood, vascular systems and heart, explains the CDC. Breathing in the smoke even for a short period increases the risk of damage to blood vessel lining and causes more viscous blood platelets, which are changes that may trigger a fatal heart attack. Adults tend to suffer stroke and coronary heart disease resulting from secondhand smoke exposure.

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