Secondhand victims

Published: Monday 30 June 1997

Health hazard: paying through< (Credit: J K Isaac /UN)PASSIVE Smoking almost doubles the risk of heart attack in women, says a study published by the American Heart Association. The findings provide strong evidence in support of the hotly-debated claim that secondhand smoke poses a major health risk. The study suggests that there are as many as 60,000 deaths each year in the us due to passive smoking.

In the largest study ever conducted on the issue, researchers from the Harvard Medical School monitored the health of 32,000 nurses for 10 years. They were placed under three different categories: no exposure to secondhand smoke, occasional exposure and regular exposure. The study found that the relative risks of coronary heart disease for those claiming regular exposure to secondhand smoke was 1.91 times more than that of women who were not exposed to such smoke. Women claiming occasional exposure were 1.58 times more at risk of suffering heart attack than those not exposed. Earlier studies had suggested that regular exposure to passive smoking increases the risk of lung cancer though the extent of that risk has still not been ascertained.

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