Smoking, both active and passive, can lead to a variety of serious health problems in both sexes. Multiple recent studies indicate that smoking is more dangerous for women than for men. Women who smoke have a higher risk of cancer.
The risk of bowel cancer, for instance, is as much as two times higher among smoking women than men. The chances to develop colon cancer are also higher among female smokers. The risk of heart attack follows the same trend. It seems that women are biologically more vulnerable to the harmful effects of tobacco smoke. However, until recently scientists didn’t have any explanation to this phenomenon.
Increased health risks for female smokers is linked to the lowered levels of “good” cholesterol
The findings published by the group of researchers from the University of Western Australia demonstrate that the observed statistical effects are linked to the level of so-called “good” cholesterol among males and females exposed to the smoking. Cholesterol is transferred within the body with the help of two types of proteins – low density lipoproteins (LDL) and high density lipoproteins (HDL). “Good” cholesterol associated with HDL gets transferred to the liver where it is metabolized and excreted. LDL-bound cholesterol tends to stick to the walls of blood vessels.
This may eventually lead to the formation of cholesterol plaque resulting in various cardiovascular problems. LDL-bound cholesterols are often referred to as “bad” cholesterol. Researchers have measured the cholesterol levels among adolescent boys and girls and found that girls coming from households where at least one of the parents smoke have a lower level of HDL cholesterol. Boys don’t seem to get affected by the effects of passive smoking in the same way. The observation might explain the differences in the chances of developing various serious health conditions later in life.
Women are more vulnerable to the dangerous effects of tobacco smoking. The risk is linked to the lower level of “good” cholesterol in women regularly exposed to the smoke.
Le-Ha C., Beilin L., Burrows S. (May 2013) Gender Difference in the Relationship between Passive Smoking Exposure and HDL-Cholesterol Levels in Late Adolescence. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
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