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Mammography may save lives from the age of 40

Passive smoking kills 11,000 people in the UK each year ­ far more than was previously thought ­ a study reveals.

Smoke exposure in the workplace causes a fifth of passive smoking deaths among people aged 20 to 64 and half of those among hospitality workers, researchers found.

The study, published online in the BMJ this week, analysed UK databases of causes of death, employment, structure of households and prevalence of active and passive smoking.

It found passive smoking was likely to be responsible for the deaths of 617 people of working age in the UK each year, including 54 deaths in the hospitality industry.

Professor Konrad Jamrozik, professor of evidence-based health care at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, said: 'Smoke-free policies in all workplaces and reductions in the prevalence of active smoking would lead to substantial reductions in these avoidable deaths.'

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