Teenagers who smoke and drink alcohol are causing visible damage to their arteries by the age of 17, a Shocking study has revealed!
It is very puzzling that many young people are taking up smoking despite the number of health warnings that there are. It’s a serious problem, especially in the case of young girls who are increasingly joining the ranks of smokers.
Teen smoking is on the rise in some countries and the long-term health risks are a worry. In addition to smoking, their health is further threatened by a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet. The situation is like a ticking bomb waiting to go off.
Tests showed stiffening of the arteries had begun by this relatively young age.
These physical changes have been linked with an increased risk of heart and blood vessel problems, such as stroke and heart attack, in later life.
But the study also found that the arteries of teenagers who stopped smoking or drinking returned to normal.
The researchers studied data between 2004 and 2008 from 1,266 youngsters taking part in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC),which charts the health of 14,500 families in the Bristol area.
This teen smoking study has been published in the European Heart Journal.
The participants detailed the teen smoking and drinking habits at the ages of 13, 15 and 17 and tests were then done to discover if there had been any stiffening of their arteries.
They had to report teen smoking facts including:
- how many cigarettes they had smoked in their lifetime
- the age at which they started to drink alcohol
Those who had smoked more than 100 cigarettes or tended to binge drink had a higher incidence of stiffened arteries than those who had smoked fewer than 20 cigarettes or had fewer than two drinks per day.
The report’s senior author, Prof John Deanfield, from the UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science, said: “We found that in this large contemporary British cohort, drinking and smoking in adolescence, even at lower levels compared to those reported in adult studies, is associated with arterial stiffening and atherosclerosis progression.
“However, we also found that if teenagers stopped smoking and drinking during adolescence, their arteries returned to normal – suggesting that there are opportunities to preserve arterial health from a young age.”
Dr Marietta Charakida, who carried out the research at the UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science, said: “Injury to the blood vessels occurs very early in life as a result of smoking and drinking and the two together are even more damaging.
“Although studies have shown teenagers are smoking less in recent years, our findings indicated approximately one in five teenagers were smoking by the age of 17.
“In families where parents were smokers, teenagers were more likely to smoke.”
Prof Metin Avkiran, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the research, told the BBC that the fact damage could be reversed was an “encouraging indication”.
He said: “It’s never too late to make changes that may literally end up saving your life.
“This teen smoking study suggests that the damage to arteries can occur even in the young, leading to serious trouble later on in life.
“Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do to protect your heart.
“If you do drink, try to ensure that it’s not to excess and within the recommended guidelines.”
You might also want to read:
Why aren’t the health warnings working on the young? It’s harder to persuade a young person not to smoke if adults around them, including parents, indulge in the habit themselves. Smoking is decreasing in the general population but teen smoking continues to be a problem. This is despite the ban on smoking in public places, the increased cost and the ban on tobacco advertising in some countries.
Peer pressure has always been a factor in these matters and teenagers look to their friends for approval. It’s hard to be the only one to say no. There must be a way of making smoking an uncool thing to do. This is difficult in the current atmosphere of smokers being perceived as anti-social.
Being anti-social attracts the young in the first place. Perhaps some celebrities, such as rock stars and rap singers, could launch an anti teen smoking campaign. This could be worth more than a thousand sermons from the government.
Gritty tactics have to be employed in this war of persuasion. The facts should speak for themselves but it’s hard to get a young person’s attention by telling them that their lungs will stop functioning in twenty years time. That seems like a lifetime away.
It’s better to concentrate on the here and now and emphasize that their clothes stink of cigarette smoke, their teeth and fingers are stained and their breath smells. Teen smoking could stop if they think that they’re not going to get a girlfriend / boyfriend because of it.
There isn’t enough effort being put into this problem, compared with other initiatives involving recreational drug use and alcohol abuse. Cigarettes are a drug and should be treated as such. Teen smoking is every bit as important and on a huge scale.
It will take courage on the part of young smokers too. They need the help of us all; government, health care providers, schools, friends and families.
Thats why I created this website as I was smoker that started smoking in my teen and I smoked over 20 years and I have dedicated my life to help smokers at any age to quit smoking!