The results of a large international study have indicated that exposing children to passive smoke could cause irreversible damage to their arteries. This increases their risk of strokes or heart disease when they become adults.
The study has found that second-hand smoke leads to thickening of the walls of the arteries which adds about 3.3 years to the age of those blood vessels by the time the child reaches adulthood. This research gives the campaigns for smoking to be banned in homes and private cars a boost.
One of the researchers has stated that parents or those considering becoming parent should stop smoking. This will not only boost their own health, but also protect their child’s future heath. Smoking has several health dangers. It causes lung cancer which is more often than not, fatal. It is known to be the top cause of premature death from conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.
According to the World Health Organisation, 6 million people are killed annually by smoking. Along with this another 600,000 people die because of inhaling other peoples’ smoke.
Tobacco smoke contains more than 4000 chemicals, with at least 250 known as harmful components and in excess of 50 known to be the cause of cancer. The WHO states that the only way to protect the health of people is to create 100% smoke-free environments.
According to statistics, around 40% of all the children are exposed to passive smoking on a regular basis. This normally occurs in their home environment. Approximately one third of all deaths linked to second-hand smoke are those of children.
This study is the first of its kind to follow children through to their adulthood to determine the links between passive smoking and the thickness of the arterial wall. Ultrasound methods were used to measure the artery walls once the children had reached adulthood. The data was based on 2401 people in Finland and 1375 people in Australia.
The results concluded that the walls of the arteries thickened by 0.015 millimeters if both parents smoked around their child, compared to parent who were non-smokers.
Most children who come from homes where there are smokers are more likely to become smokers themselves. This increases their risk of heart disease.
Image credit: Anthony Kelly