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Passive smoking: harmful even in small amounts

Over 4000 chemical substances have been isolated from the smoke of cigarettes. Some of them have been proven to be toxic (benzopyrene, carbon monoxide etc). When smoke is inhaled, some of these substances cause direct damage to the lungs, while some others are absorbed and transferred by the blood to many areas of the body and may damage various tissues.

One of the most sensitive tissues is the lining of the inner surface of the arteries, called endothelium. Studies from various countries have shown that smoking only one cigarette or even brief exposure to environment with smoke affects the function of endothelium preventing the arteries from opening as they should. Repeated exposure may turn a healthy person into one suffering from coronary or peripheral arterial disease.

The various harmful consequences of active smoking on human health have been studied and documented extensively. All smokers are aware of its risks (labels on packets of cigarettes etc).

Passive smoking is also harmful and there is scientifically documented evidence that:

  • It makes platelets more sticky increasing the risk of clotting and subsequent narrowing or complete blockage (occlusion) of the arteries. An American study recently published in the journal Stroke shows that passive smoking increases the risk of stroke and that individuals who have never (actively) smoked are even more vulnerable
  • It reduces blood flow in the coronary arteries, ie the arteries to the heart, down to the same levels as in smokers. This has been shown in studies using adenosine triphosphate in healthy volunteers
  • It increases the levels of carbon monoxide in the blood
  • It reduces good (HDL) cholesterol

The only absolutely safe dose of smoke is zero!

Last modified 30/10/2016