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Smoking and Tobacco

Secondhand Smoke Causes Heart Disease and Lung Cancer in Adults

The longer you are around secondhand smoke, the more likely it is to hurt you.

Nonsmokers who breathe smoke at home or at work are more likely to become sick and die from heart disease and lung cancer. Studies show that secondhand smoke may cause other serious diseases, too.

Heart Structure

Secondhand smoke is bad for your heart.

Breathing secondhand smoke makes the platelets in your blood behave like those of a regular smoker. Even a short time in a smoky room causes your blood platelets to stick together. Secondhand smoke also damages the lining of your blood vessels. In your heart, these bad changes can cause a deadly heart attack.

Secondhand smoke changes how your heart, blood, and blood vessels work in many ways. Adults who breathe five hours of secondhand smoke daily have higher bad cholesterol that clogs arteries.

People who have heart disease should be very careful not to go where they will be around secondhand smoke.

The bottom line is that breathing secondhand smoke makes it more likely that you will get heart disease, have a heart attack, and die early.

Secondhand smoke hurts your lungs. Artery

Secondhand smoke includes many chemicals that are dangerous for your lungs. Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous for young children and adults with heart and lung disease.

Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer.

Secondhand tobacco smoke contains the same cancer-causing chemicals that smokers inhale.

Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in adults who do not smoke. Breathing in secondhand smoke in any indoor spaces, such as at home, at work, in restaurants, bars, and clubs, increases your chances of getting lung cancer by 20 percent to 30 percent.

Secondhand smoke causes other breathing problems.

Secondhand smoke affects how well your lungs work, especially if you already have asthma or other breathing problems. Being around smoke makes you more congested and cough more.

Secondhand smoke also irritates your skin, eyes, nose, and throat. If you have allergies or a history of breathing problems, secondhand smoke can make you even sicker.

Secondhand smoke may cause disease in other parts of your body.

We know that smoking causes many forms of cancer. Scientists believe even a little tobacco smoke is dangerous. Scientists also believe secondhand smoke may cause other diseases throughout your body. They are doing studies on possible links to stroke, breast cancer, nasal sinus cancer, and chronic lung problems in children and adults.

Information contained in this article has been taken directly from The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Secondhand Smoke: What it Means to You. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. June 27, 2006.

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Last Reviewed: Jun 27, 2014