Passive smoking ‘causes more harm to girls’

Dr. Howell Clague Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Dr. Howell Clague Sunderland Royal Hospital.
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HEALTH campaigners are warning about the effects of secondhand smoke after it was revealed it can pose more of a heart risk to teenage girls than boys.

Scientists found that girls exposed to other people’s smoke at home had reduced levels of good cholesterol, which protects arteries.

The same effect was not found in boys.

Good cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein, helps to reduce heart disease.

Ailsa Rutter, director of North East anti-smoking campaigner Fresh, said: “In the North East, we see far too many families whose lives are affected by smoking-related heart disease.

“Breathing in second-hand smoke is harmful to anyone, but especially when you have young people in the home as their bodies and lungs are still developing. Research suggests that second-hand smoke exposure increases the risk of them getting heart disease when older.

“Quitting smoking can halve the risk of coronary heart disease within a year for the smoker, and it means their family won’t be breathing in second-hand smoke.”

Howell Clague, respiratory specialist at Sunderland Royal Hospital, said that while the information is not proof that passive smoking in childhood results in a higher death rate from heart disease in adult women, it shows the effect that it has in the young.

“This information comes from an Australian research group who are following 1,754 adolescents on whom they have a wealth of data,” he said.

“They analysed 804 who were non-smokers to see whether passive smoking in childhood was associated with changes in their lipid profile.

“There was a significant reduction in good cholesterol in girls, but not boys, suggesting a sex difference, and because of the reduced HDL cholesterol, they suggest an increased cardiovascular risk when these adolescent girls become adults.

“It is another small piece of evidence that passive smoking is associated with undesirable effects in innocent children – in this case girls more than boys – exposed to adult cigarette smoke in the home.”