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New alert on living with a smoker

PEOPLE regularly exposed to second-hand smoke may have increased risks of dying from strokes and emphysema as well as from heart disease and lung cancer, according to a study from China.

A number of studies have found that non-smokers who regularly breathe in other people's smoke have an increased risk of developing heart disease or certain cancers, but the links to strokes and emphysema have been relatively weaker.

The findings, which appeared in the medical journal Chest, cannot definitively prove that second-hand smoke is the culprit, but the researchers were able to account for some other key factors, such as a person's age, education, job, and blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

"This study has shown close response relationships between second-hand smoke and major tobacco-related mortality," wrote lead researcher Yao He of Chinese PLA General Hospital in Beijing, and colleagues.

The findings are based on 910 adults who were followed over 17 years.

At the start, 44pc said they lived with a smoker, while 53pc said they inhaled second-hand smoke at work.

Over the following years, 249 participants died. The risks of death from heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and emphysema were all two to three times higher among people exposed to second-hand smoke.

The numbers who died of each specific cause were fairly small, which is a limitation.