Lung Cancer FAQ: Secondhand smoke

Q: My father and mother smoked during my childhood, what is my risk of lung cancer from this second hand smoke?

A: Secondhand smoke, which contains thousands of toxic chemicals, can contribute to the development of lung cancer due to simply breathing in poisonous chemicals from someone else's lighted cigarette. Anyone regularly exposed to another's cigarette smoke is at risk.

Overall, there is a much lower risk of getting lung cancer from secondhand smoke than from smoking directly. In the United States it is believed that approximately 3,000 people die each year from lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke.

If a person close to you smokes, encourage them to go outside to smoke to reduce your risk. Also, if they are interested in quitting smoking you can provide them with information on smoking cessation programs.

Answers provided by Providence lung cancer experts.

Last updated: August 2002