Cardiovascular Risk Factors / Health

Passive smoking: teenage girls are at higher risk of health problems than boys

Teenage girls are at a higher risk of health problems from passive smokingIt has been discovered that when teenage girls are exposed to second-hand smoking, they have lower levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL).  Unfortunately HDL cholesterol reduces the risk of heart disease

Researchers from Perth, Australia, studied more than 1,000 adolescents, who were born between 1989 and 1992.  They gathered key information about smoking habits in the household from 18 weeks gestation and continuing up until the children turned 17.  During this time, 48 per cent of the participants were exposed to second-hand smoking.

Dr. Chi Le-Ha, of the University of Western Australia, was the study’s lead author and he commented:

‘In our study we found 17-year-old girls raised in households where passive smoking occurred, were more likely to experience declines in HDL cholesterol levels.  Secondhand smoke did not have the same impact on teenage boys of the same age, which suggests passive smoking exposure may be more harmful to girls.  Considering cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women in the western world, this is a serious concern.’

The importance of HDL can not be highlighted enough. Unlike low-density lipoproteins (LDL) that can create a waxy build-up that block blood vessels, HDLs pick up excess cholesterol in the blood stream and take it to the liver where it can be broken down.

Dr Le-Ha added: ‘The findings indicate childhood passive smoke exposure may be a more significant cardiovascular risk factor for women than men.

‘We need to re-double public health efforts to reduce young children’s second-hand smoke exposure in the home, particularly girls’ exposure.’

Reference: www.jcem.endojournals.org

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