Smoking Especially Bad to Spouses

Photo: Bridal couple

A new study analyzed the healthy
effects of SHS to spouses of
smokers; © SXC

For those who never smoked, being married to a current smoker was associated with a 42 percent increase in risk of stroke compared to being married to a never-smoker. For former smokers, being married to a current smoker was associated with a 72 percent increase in risk compared to being married to a never-smoker. Being married to a former smoker was not associated with any increase in risk compared to being married to a never-smoker.

This suggests that although stroke risk is elevated if your spouse smokes, that risk is eliminated if your spouse stops smoking. For example, never-smokers married to former smokers had nearly the same stroke risk as never-smokers married to never-smokers. Current smokers had significantly elevated stroke rates compared to never-smokers, and spousal smoking status did not affect this risk among current smokers.

The data were drawn from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a National Institute on Aging sponsored longitudinal survey of U.S. adults nationwide aged ≥50 years and their spouses. Enrolments occurred in 1992, 1993, 1998 and 2004 and final analyses included 16,225 respondents.

Spousal smoking status was assessed at the time of enrolment and participants were followed an average of 9.1 years after enrolment for the incidence of stroke. All models were adjusted for age; race; Hispanic ethnicity; Southern birthstate; parental education; paternal occupation class; years of education; baseline income; baseline wealth; obesity; overweight; alcohol use; and diagnosed hypertension, diabetes or heart disease.

Maria Glymour, ScD, Harvard School of Public Health, says: "These findings indicate that spousal smoking increases stroke risk among non-smokers and former smokers. The health benefits of quitting smoking likely extend beyond individual smokers to affect their spouses, potentially multiplying the benefits of smoking cessation."

MEDICA.de; Source: Elsevier Health Sciences