Secondhand Smoke Linked to Mental Health Problems

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For anyone whose ever had to breathe someone else’s secondhand smoke, it can be very annoying, to say the least. Not only does it smell bad, it is also a proven health hazard for those who breathe it, associated with serious health issues including lung cancer, asthma, and heart disease.

Now researchers in Britain are finding a connection between toxic secondhand cigarette smoke and a greater risk of psychiatric problems. These include depression, delirium and even schizophrenia. The new study, published online in the June 7th issues of the Archives of General Psychiatric, doesn’t prove that breathing the smoke actually causes those problems to develop.

That being said, these findings are significant considering approximately 3 out of every 5 non-smokers exhibit biological signs of secondhand smoke exposure. Understanding that there may be a connection between their mental health and how much secondhand smoke they breathe will help people to take measures to avoid it.

The study utilized data on approximately 2600 smokers and 5500 non-smokers. At the onset of the study, none of the 8100 participants had a prior history of mental illness. However, throughout the next 6 years, almost 15% had developed some from of psychological distress. Non-smokers in the group, who had high secondhand smoke exposure levels, were much more vulnerable. They were 50% more likely to develop some form of psychological problems when compared to those who had no exposure.

Conclusion? We’ve known for a long time that secondhand smoke is dangerous to those who must breathe it. Now we know that it can create even more problems than we once believed. Not only does it affect us physically, it affects our mental health as well.

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