Harvard Heart Letter

Secondhand smoke boosts stroke risk

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Being near a smoker forces you to breathe what that person exhales as well as what wafts from the burning end of the cigarette. This so-called secondhand smoke has been linked to a host of health problems, including lung cancer, heart attack, and stroke. Now, a large study further validates earlier research about the risk of stroke caused by secondhand smoke.

The study, published online June 16 by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, included nearly 22,000 people ages 45 and older. Almost a quarter of the participants reported secondhand smoke exposure, which was defined as more than one hour per week in close contact with a smoker. After adjustment for other stroke risk factors, there was a 30 percent increase in the overall risk of stroke among people exposed to secondhand smoke.

The good news is that 28 states and the District of Columbia have passed comprehensive laws prohibiting smoking in all public places and workplaces, including restaurants and bars.

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