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Smoker's Own Secondhand Smoke Adds to Health Risks

14 cigarettes a day create exposure equal to inhaling nearly 3 more, study finds

TUESDAY, Feb. 2 (HealthDay News) -- In addition to the risks associated with directly inhaling cigarette smoke, smokers also face significant risk from their own secondhand smoke, researchers say.

The finding, published online Jan. 29 in Environmental Health, challenges the widely held belief that the threat posed to smokers by secondhand smoke is negligible.

The study focused on newsstand agents in Genoa, Italy.

"News agents were chosen because they work alone in small newsstands, meaning that any tobacco smoke in the air they breathe is strictly correlated to the number of cigarettes smoked by that news agent," Maria Teresa Piccardo, of the National Cancer Research Institute in Italy, said in a news release from the journal's publisher. "We studied the contribution environmental tobacco smoke made to carcinogen exposure in 15 active smokers."

Piccardo and her colleagues concluded that secondhand smoke could have a major impact on smokers' health. For example, smoking 14 cigarettes a day results in secondhand smoke exposure that's equivalent to smoking an extra 2.6 cigarettes, they found.

"Both active and passive smoking contributions should always be considered in studies about health of active smokers," Piccardo said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about the health effects of smoking.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: BioMed Central, news release, Jan. 28, 2010

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