One out of two people in the world isexposed to secondhand smoke. Previous research has shown that secondhand smoke increases your risk of lung and heart disease. Research in China now shows that it also significantly increases your risk of severe dementia.
The study, published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, was performed by scientists at King’s College London and Anhui Medical University, China, along with colleagues in the United Kingdom and the United States.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 80 percent of the more than 1 billion smokers worldwide live in low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death is heaviest; but only 11 percent of the world’s population are protected by comprehensive smoke-free laws.
Recent data show that the prevalence of passive smoking is still high, with more than 50 percent of the world’s population exposed to environmental tobacco smoke on a daily basis. China also has the highest number of dementia sufferers in the world, with increasing rates of new cases as the population ages.
“‘The increased risk of severe dementia syndromes in those exposed to passive smoking is similar to increased risk of coronary heart disease — suggesting that urgent preventive measures should be taken, not just in China but many other countries,” says researcher Dr. Ruoling Chen.