Claim: Secondhand smoke presents greater threat to teen girls than boys

Regardless of the validity of the researchers dubious HDL claims, unfortunately for these researchers, cholesterol levels have nothing to do with risk of heart disease.

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Secondhand smoke presents greater threat to teen girls than boys

Exposure linked to drop in ‘good’ cholesterol levels, rise in heart disease risk

Chevy Chase, MD––When teenage girls are exposed to secondhand smoke at home, they tend to have lower levels of the “good” form of cholesterol that reduces heart disease risk, according to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

High-density lipoproteins (HDL) pick up excess cholesterol in the blood stream and take it to the liver where it can be broken down. Unlike low-density lipoproteins that can create a waxy build-up that blocks blood vessels, HDL cholesterol can play a key role in combatting heart disease risk.

“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,” said the study’s lead author, Chi Le-Ha, MD, of the University of Western Australia. “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.”

Researchers studied a longitudinal birth cohort of 1,057 adolescents who were born between 1989 and 1992 in Perth, Australia. The study gathered information about smoking in the household beginning at 18 weeks gestation and leading up to when the children turned 17. During that time, 48 percent of the participants were exposed to secondhand smoke at home. Blood tests were performed to measure the teenagers’ cholesterol levels.

“The findings indicate childhood passive smoke exposure may be a more significant cardiovascular risk factor for women than men,” Le-Ha said. “We need to redouble public health efforts to reduce young children’s secondhand smoke exposure in the home, particularly girls’ exposure.”

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3 responses to “Claim: Secondhand smoke presents greater threat to teen girls than boys

  1. To be meaningful, which is doubtful, the research would have to establish a dose sensitivity, i.e. girls who were exposed to more second-hand smoke had a greater change in lipids than girls exposed to less second-hand smoke, but that this didn’t occur among boys.
    The cholesterol-heart-disease link remains a fishy item. I dunno what to think of it; it’s a very strong paradigm in “common wisdom” but that doesn’t mean it’s true.

  2. Given that teenage boys, especially in a place like Western Australia, are much more likely to engage in a higher level of physical activity……..

  3. Good point Larry. It has nothing whatever to do with smoke. There are so many uncontrolled variables in these studies it is quite laughable.

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