Study finds non-smoking children of smoking adults 31 percent more likely to die of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

If one or both of your parents smoked and you didn’t, you are still more likely to die of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, says a study published Thursday by the American Cancer Society. This is the first study to find a correlation between secondhand smoke and COPD, Kate Furby of the American Association for the Advancement of Science reports in The Washington Post.

The researchers followed, for more than 22 years, more than 70,000 adults who had never smoked. Those who lived in a household with a smoker while they were children were 31 percent more likely to die of COPD. It’s already been established that children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to have asthma and other lung problems, and the surgeon general says “No amount of secondhand smoke is safe.”

It may be worse than that. “There is evidence that secondhand smoke is even more detrimental than smoking. A lot of cigarettes have filters. So it [secondhand smoke] can be more detrimental in that regard,” Geetha Raghuveer, a pediatric cardiologist at the University of Missouri at Kansas City School of Medicine, told Furby.

“The study found slight increases in other health risks,” Furby reports. “The good news is that the study, while finding increased risk of death from one lung disease, did not find an association with cancer or heart disease, said Michael Eriksen,” a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s Office on Smoking and Health, who did not participate in the study. “For parents, the implication is, don’t smoke at home, and don’t smoke around your kids,” he said.
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