Secondhand smoke linked to 30% increased stroke risk

smokingThink just because you do not smoke that you are safe from the thousands of toxic chemicals contained in cigarettes?…Think again. Non-smokers who are regularly in the company of people lighting-up, may still be ingesting all those dangerous fumes and having their health put at jeopardy – through what is known as secondhand (passive) smoking.

It seems a new study emerges every single day that further demonstrates how bad smoking is for the body, and the latest research shows that non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke can be at a significantly increased risk of suffering a stroke.

The study – published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine led by Angela M. Malek, PhD, from the Department of Public Health Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, found that secondhand smoke can raise the risk of developing a stroke by an estimated 30%.

Researchers analysed the national, population-based study ‘Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke’ (REGARDS), a study that assesses cardiovascular disease occurrences and death rates of people aged 45 or over.

Within the REGARDS database, 45% of the people were African-American and 55% were Caucasian. For the purpose of their study, the researchers focused on 22,000 individuals, of which 38% were African-American and 45% were males. Around 23% in total of these people were exposed to secondhand smoke.

Researchers delved into the information deeper to determine if certain types of stroke could be linked to smoking, applying adjustments as well as taking into account factors such as diabetes, hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases.

The findings demonstrate that from April 2003 to March 2012, study participants had reported 428 stroke. Of this total, 352 were ischemic, 50 were hemorrhagic and 26 were due to other subtypes of stroke. Even taking into account the variable factors, there was still a 30% risk of stroke for nonsmokers.

“Our findings suggest the possibility for adverse health outcomes such as stroke among nonsmokers exposed to SHS and add to the body of evidence supporting stricter smoking regulations,” commented Malek.

She added: “In the future, it is necessary for studies to analyse the role of heart diseases in the relationship established in this current research. Possible exposure to other environmental factors such as air pollutants in relation to stroke should also be explored.”

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