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Spousal Smoking Poses Significant Stroke Risk

For former smokers, stroke risk is the same as that of their smoking spouses

FRIDAY, Aug. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Living with a spouse who smokes raises the risk of stroke for those who never smoked, and for former smokers it confers the same risk of stroke as that of their smoking spouses, according to a study published online July 29 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

M. Maria Glymour, of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues conducted a study of 16,225 people aged 50 and above who had never had a stroke and who were stratified according to smoking status as never-smokers, former smokers and current smokers. The cohort was followed for 9.1 years. Models were adjusted for a wide range of confounding factors, including age; race; parental education; baseline income; obesity; alcohol use; and diagnosed hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.

For never-smokers, a smoking spouse raised the risk of stroke by 42 percent, and for former smokers, the increased risk of stroke with a smoking spouse versus a spouse who never smoked was 1.72 times, the researchers report.

"These findings are consistent with growing evidence that secondhand smoke increases the risk of stroke," the authors write. "The health benefits of quitting smoking likely extend beyond individual smokers to affect their spouses, potentially multiplying the benefits of smoking cessation."

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