1 Percent of Deaths Worldwide Due to Secondhand Smoke

In 2004, an estimated 165,000 children died because of passive smoking

MONDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- An estimated 1 percent of the deaths that occur in the world annually are due to passive smoking, and many of these deaths are in children, according to research published online Nov. 26 in The Lancet.

To calculate the worldwide degree of secondhand smoke exposure and its disease burden on children and adult nonsmokers, Mattias Öberg, Ph.D., of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues used data from 192 countries during 2004 to estimate deaths and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) based on estimates of population proportions exposed to secondhand smoke.

The researchers determined that 40 percent of children and approximately a third of adult nonsmokers were exposed to secondhand smoke. The researchers attributed an estimated 603,000 deaths (about 165,000 in children) -- from ischemic heart disease, lower respiratory infections, asthma, and lung cancer -- to this exposure. This figure equaled about 1 percent of worldwide mortality. Secondhand exposure-linked DALY loss reached 10.9 million.

"These estimates of worldwide burden of disease attributable to secondhand smoke suggest that substantial health gains could be made by extending effective public health and clinical interventions to reduce passive smoking worldwide," the authors write.

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