Exposure to second-hand smoke at home may reduce levels of ‘good’ cholesterol in teenage girls, reports the British Heart Foundation. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) pick up excess cholesterol in the blood stream and take it to the liver where it can be broken down. In this way, HDL, or ‘good’ cholesterol can help protect against heart disease. In a study of over 1,000 Australian teenagers, nearly half (48%) were exposed to second-hand smoke at home. Blood tests then revealed levels of ‘good’ cholesterol were significantly lower in girls exposed to passive smoking compared to those living in smoke-free homes. However, this effect was not observed in boys.
Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, June Davison, said: “This study suggests second-hand smoke could be more harmful for teenage girls than boys. We don’t know enough about why second-hand smoke has more of an effect on young girls, so we hope further research will provide answers. What we do know is that passive smoking can increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease, the single biggest killer of women in the UK. Whatever your gender, growing up exposed to second-hand smoke can affect habits as well as health – children whose family smoke at home are more likely to start smoking themselves. Making homes and cars smoke-free will protect children from the dangers of passive smoking, and help teenagers towards a healthier adult life.”
This research was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).