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Secondhand Smoke (cont.)

Secondhand Smoke and Other Lung Diseases

Lung function is compromised in those who are continuously exposed to secondhand smoke. Symptoms such as coughing and chest congestion are more common in those exposed to passive smoke than in nonsmokers who reside in smoke free environments. The respiratory effects of secondhand smoke are particularly dangerous to infants and young children. Babies exposed to secondhand smoke can develop serious respiratory infections. Every year, passive smoking is believed to cause 150,000 to 300,000 lung infections (such as pneumonia and bronchitis) in children younger than 18 months of age in the U.S.

Secondhand Smoke and Children

Lung disease and respiratory infections are not the only risks suffered by children and infants who are exposed to passive smoke. Passive smoking also worsens asthma in children, increases their risk for the development of middle ear infections, and increases the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Secondhand Smoke and Breast Cancer

Even though breast cancer rates are not known to be increased in active smokers, some research points to a possible effect of passive smoke on breast cancer development. Tobacco smoke does contain chemicals that have been shown to cause breast cancer in animal models. It is also known that chemicals from tobacco smoke are able to accumulate in breast tissue and breast milk. Whether secondhand smoke actually increases the risk of breast cancer has not been conclusively determined, but the U.S. Surgeon General's report concluded that there is "suggestive but not sufficient" evidence of a link in 2006.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/12/2014

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Secondhand Smoke:

Secondhand Smoke - Patient Experience

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Secondhand Smoke - Reducing Smoke Exposure

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