Second hand smoke cause innocent deaths

As We See It: Second-Hand Smoke

Over 13-times more innocent deaths are caused by second-hand smoke than by alcohol-impaired drivers. Recent findings indicate toxic burdens can be reduced by consuming more cruciferous vegetables.

By William Faloon.

William Faloon
William Faloon

Each year, more than 10,000 Americans are killed in motor vehicle crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers.1

About 7,000 of these deaths are drunk drivers that caused the crashes. The balance of over 3,000 fatalities are innocent victims.1

Public service groups plead to not drink and drive. Drunk drivers are targeted for arrest and criminal prosecution.

Yet the number of deaths caused by drunk drivers pales in comparison to those inflicted by second-hand tobacco smoke.

Second-hand smoke causes at least 7,000 deaths each year from lung cancer.2

Heart disease caused by second-hand smoke kills 34,000 Americans per year.3 Even short-term smoke exposure can increase heart attack risk.4,5

So, each year drunk drivers tragically kill 3,000 sober Americans, whereas second-hand smoke kills 41,000 non-smokers.2

That translates into 10 times more deaths caused by second-hand smoke than by alcohol-impaired drivers.

I've never been a smoker.  But during my first 34 years of life, I was exposed to a lot of second-hand smoke in my home and workplace.

In reviewing data about the many diseases caused by second-hand smoke, I grow increasingly indignant about the failure of public policy makers to protect the victims, which include most of us born before year 2000.

There are no proven ways to reverse all the damage caused by second-hand smoke. One strategy we can employ today is to ingest plant foods that have been shown to confer intriguing degrees of protection.

The term pancreatic cancer strikes fear because about 90% of its victims perish within five years after diagnosis.6,7

A large European study found that exposure to second-hand smoke at home or work can increase pancreatic cancer risk by 50%.8

Proven ways to reduce your odds of avoiding pancreatic cancer include not smoking, maintaining healthy body weight, proper diet, regular exercise…and avoiding second-hand smoke.

Mitigating cancer risks

Cigarette smoke contains dozens of carcinogens including benzene.9

Inhalation of smoke irritates our lungs in ways that contribute to COPD and other lung diseases.

Exposure to carcinogens is the most concerning aspect of smoke inhalation as it increases malignancy risks throughout the body.9,10

Ingestion of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and collard greens can lower cancer risk via several mechanisms including detoxifying our body of carcinogens like benzene.11-15

Researchers at Johns Hopkins discovered the anti-cancer effects of a broccoli compound called sulforaphane in 1992.16

Since then, prestigious cancer centers have been studying sulforaphane as a way to prevent and better treat existing malignancies.

Recent success in removing deadly toxins from our body

The Fred Hutchison Cancer Center published findings showing broccoli components providing sulforaphane increased elimination of carcinogens from human subjects by 67%.

These researchers demonstrated favorable reductions of carcinogens from food, air pollution and smoke in response to consumption of sulforaphane-rich broccoli compounds.17 

Another human study from the University of Arizona showed how broccoli compounds rapidly detoxify benzene and other carcinogens in tobacco smoke.18

MD Anderson Cancer Center published a report describing the multiple ways that sulforaphane reduces cancer risk that include neutralizing toxins and blocking cellular DNA mutations.19

UCLA Health published an article describing the cancer prevention titled:

"Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables can significantly lower cancer risks"20

Entering the terms "broccoli and cancer" on the National Library of Medicine website reveals rapid escalation of published research shown on the following graph:21

Smokers, former smokers, and people exposed to carcinogens from second-hand smoke who eat lots of cruciferous vegetables are less likely to develop lung and other cancers.22-24

A robust amount of research shows that consumption of sulforaphane-rich broccoli can remove deadly toxins from our bodies and reduce cancer incidence.15,25-27

Almost impossible to avoid environmental toxins

We are all exposed to environmental toxins that increase cancer risk.

Eliminating accumulated toxins has long been sought by health-conscious consumers. 

Recent findings indicate an effective method of reducing our toxic burden is to consume sulforaphane-delivering foods, and/or utilize supplements that release sulforaphane in the small intestine for optimal absorption.14,28,29

Kidney Failure and Second-Hand Smoke

Smoking is associated with double the risk of death in kidney failure.30

A study found that second-hand smoke is almost as toxic to kidneys as being a smoker.31

This study analyzed over 130,000 non-smokers.

People exposed to three or more days per week of second-hand exposure were 66% more likely to develop chronic kidney disease than those with no exposure.

People with fewer than three days of exposure per week were 59% more likely to develop chronic kidney disease than those with no exposure.

These data suggest there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke.

Challenge of sulforaphane absorption

Incorporating lots of fresh vegetables in one's diet is of indisputable value.

Mature cruciferous vegetables, however, contain relatively little sulforaphane.32

What mature vegetables provide is varying levels of a sulforaphane precursor called glucoraphanin. Some of this glucoraphanin can convert to sulforaphane in the gut primarily using an enzyme called myrosinase.14

Broccoli sprouts, on the other hand, contain 10 to 100 times more sulforaphane-boosting potential. 32

Even so, cooking broccoli or sprouts destroys most of the sulforaphane precursor (glucoraphanin).13,29 Cooking also inactivates the enzyme (myrosinase) needed to convert glucoraphanin (in the intestines) to sulforaphane for absorption into the bloodstream.33,34

For most people, properly formulated glucoraphanin + myrosinase supplements may be a practical solution.

The diagram on this page shows the pathway of how glucoraphanin (found abundantly in broccoli sprouts) converts to sulforaphane.14

Consistent + extensive data

Several years ago, Life Extension® Magazine published in-depth articles on multiple types of cancers that cruciferous vegetables have been shown to help prevent.35-40

You can access these articles by clicking:

What's remarkable is the consistency and abundance of confirmatory data spanning many decades that include recent favorable findings.

Cancer rates might significantly decline if more people were able to deliver more sulforaphane to their bloodstream.

Many readers of this publication have been able to accomplish this.

A personal note…

Humans indulge in all kinds of risky behaviors that cause premature death. The direct victims are often the risk takers, such as those who smoke cigarettes.  

When it comes to second-hand smoke, the victims extend to people who chose not to engage in the deadly behavior, but nonetheless suffer the horrific consequences of cancer, clogged arteries, and failed kidneys.

A rough calculation of the total number of American deaths caused by second-hand smoke since year 1900 likely exceeds four million.   

When data emerged suggesting second-hand smoke was dangerous, Big Tobacco suppressed it by all kinds of nefarious means, including the now infamous Tobacco Institute that created illusions that smoke inhalation was perfectly safe.41

Big tobacco paid off State and Federal legislatures to prevent anti-smoking laws from passing, including smoking bans in public places.42

For many decades, our government enabled nicotine addicts to smoke wherever they liked, while non-smokers were not adequately informed of the dangers of second-hand smoke inhalation.

Cardiovascular Damage Inflicted by Second-Hand Smoke

Toxins contained in inhaled smoke damage the delicate lining of our blood vessels.43

This sets the stage for stroke, heart attack, and other vascular diseases caused by atherosclerosis, abnormal platelet aggregation, and persistent inflammation.43

A method to predict future cardiovascular risk is a measure of coronary artery calcification.44 An ideal coronary calcium score is ZERO meaning no calcification of one's coronary arteries.   

With age, coronary artery calcium scores often elevate into the 100s and sometimes well over 1,000.  

Exposure to second-hand smoke independently predicts the likelihood and extent of coronary artery calcification.45,46

A study of over 3,000 individuals who were never smokers (ages 40 to 80 years) completed a questionnaire on second-hand smoke exposure from tobacco and had a CT scan to estimate coronary artery calcification (CAC).45

Four categories of exposure to second-hand smoke were identified (minimal, low, moderate, and high exposure).

Coronary artery calcification (CAC) was graded, and statistical analysis of the prevalence of CAC was performed to assess the impact of second-hand smoke on the odds of coronary calcification.

The analysis was adjusted for factors known to impact coronary calcification including gender, age, the presence of diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, and kidney disease.

The results showed significantly higher odds of CAC with increasing exposure to second-hand smoke as summarized in the table below:

Second-Hand Smoke Exposure Prevalence of Calcification (odds ratio, adjusted)
Low 1.54-times higher (54%)
Moderate 1.60-times higher (60%)
High 1.93-times higher (93%)

This study revealed the dangers of second-hand smoke upon coronary artery calcification accumulated throughout life, to include childhood through adulthood, be it exposure at work or in the home.

I encourage those with a history of second-hand smoke exposure (which includes myself) to have regular blood tests and optimize every vascular risk factor including lipids, C-reactive protein, homocysteine, hormones, glycemic markers and of course, blood pressure (using an at-home blood pressure monitor).

Defend Against Benzene, an Invisible Killer

Benzene is a toxic chemical that is practically everywhere.

Found in gasoline and formed by the burning of fossil fuels and tobacco, this invisible gas spreads widely in the air we breathe.47-49

Benzene has been tied to major health risks, including leukemia and other blood cell cancers.47

The good news is that nutrients in broccoli sprouts, including sulforaphane, act as potent detoxifiers of benzene, helping to eliminate it from the body.12,50,51

A Hidden Threat

Benzene is literally all around us.

It is used in the production of plastics, lubricants, pesticides, and other products.47,48

It's present in gasoline fumes and is formed through the burning of crude oil48 and motor vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions.52 Cigarette smoke accounts for about half of the total U.S. population's exposure to benzene.52

Even burning natural gas or propane on stovetops in our homes produces benzene!49

Avoiding gas fumes, car exhaust, smoking, and second-hand smoke can reduce exposure to this invisible chemical, but it can't eliminate it.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and programs associated with The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) all classify benzene as a known human carcinogen.47,48,52

How Broccoli Compounds May Help

Scientists have long recognized that consuming cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli reduces risk for several forms of cancer and other conditions.51

Many of these benefits have been attributed to compounds in broccoli that are converted into sulforaphane. This cruciferous nutrient induces a wide range of mechanisms that aid in detoxification and cellular protection.

Clinical trials show that the ability of broccoli-derived nutrients to defend health extends to the detoxification of dangerous chemicals, including benzene.12,50,51

In one placebo-controlled study, scientists evaluated subjects in China who are exposed to some of the highest levels of airborne pollutants in the world. They measured levels of compounds in the urine that are derived from the metabolism and detoxification of benzene.

What they found was those participants given broccoli sprout nutrients for 10 days had as much as a 63% increase in the elimination of benzene from the body.50

The scientists concluded that consumption of broccoli sprout-derived nutrients boosted the detoxification of benzene,11-15,50,51 potentially reducing the negative health effects of benzene exposure.

For longer life,

For Longer Life

William Faloon, Co-Founder Life Extension®


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