Every once in a while, we may be exposed to secondhand smoke. Yet little do we know about the dangers that may lie waiting for us. A recent study has found out that secondhand smoke exposure can lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Secondhand Smoke and Its Dangers
Secondhand smoke is smoke which is a combination of cigarette smoke from the burning cigarette and smoke exhaled by the smoker. Studies have shown that secondhand smoke is just as deadly as smoking cigarettes. There are two types of secondhand smoke: side stream smoke which comes from the burning tobacco and mainstream smoke which the smoker inhales. It is said that smoke from the burning tobacco is more harmful compared to smoke inhaled by the smoker, so that secondhand smoke is deadlier than smoking cigarettes directly. Tobacco smoke smelled by passersby is not filtered and contains many harmful substances.
A non-smoker who is regularly exposed to secondhand smoke can absorb into his body a considerable amount of nicotine and other harmful substances. It is said that tobacco smoke contains more than 4000 chemical compounds which may be toxic to our health. These toxins may linger in the air for about four hours and can affect people who breathe air. It is said that after 5 minutes of exposure to this air, there may be stiffening of the aorta, and after 20 to 30 minutes, there may be excess blood clotting, increased build-up of fatty deposits in the blood vessels and increase in the risk for stroke and heart attack. After two hours, there may be irregular heartbeats and this may trigger a heart attacks or any other cardiac event. The risk for certain diseases also increases with prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke. Lung cancers and lung disease such as COPD, asthma and emphysema may take place. Other diseases that may surface out include heart disease, eye irritation, nasal irritation, sinus infections and respiratory infections.
Those who are at greater risk for secondhand smoke dangers include workers in the service industry such as waiters and bartenders because they may be exposed to cigarette smoke from customers. They have the risk of absorbing carcinogens from the environment. Pregnant women are also at risk for acquiring dangers secondhand smoke, as well as their babies. Smoke exposure can give rise to pregnancy related problems such as placenta previa or low-lying placenta, placental abruption, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and stillbirth. Exposure to secondhand smoke can decrease the amount of oxygen that is available to the baby and the mother, thus it can lead to increases in the child's heart rate and increase in the risk for prematurity or low birth weight.
Infants and children who are always exposed to smoke may have problems such as frequent colds and respiratory infections, slow or incomplete lung growth and development, asthma, chronic cough, recurrent ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome, learning and behaviour problems, cataracts, poor oral health, risk for smoking later on in life and increased risk for tumours and cancers.
Secondhand Smoke and Pregnancy
A recent study from researchers at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) and the University at Buffalo (UB) revealed that secondhand smoke is associated with pregnancy loss, stillbirths, miscarriage and tubal ectopic pregnancies. The results of this study are published in the journal Tobacco Control and correlated pregnancy outcome with secondhand smoke. In this study, lifetime secondhand smoke exposure was studied lifetime in subjects and the comparison group of never-smokers was limited to women without any secondhand smoke exposure. The study gathered data from around 80,762 women and observed reproductive data, current and former smoking status and details about secondhand smoke exposure for a lifetime. It was shown that women with high exposure to secondhand smoke had greater risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes. This study further suggests that pregnant women should avoid secondhand smoke to avoid any pregnancy related problems.
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