How does the consumption of alcohol and cigarettes affect young people?
Most people already know that alcohol consumption and smoking are harmful to health. Researchers have now found that alcohol and smoking can cause serious harm even in teenage years. When adolescents smoke or drink alcohol, the arteries stiffen at the age of 17.
In their latest study, scientists from University College London (UCL) found that alcohol consumption and smoking in adolescents left their negative mark at the age of 17. When teenagers occasionally smoke or drink alcohol, the arteries of those affected become rigid at the age of 17. The doctors published the results in the English-language journal "European Heart Journal".
Smoking and alcohol consumption harm young people considerably
The effects of alcohol and smoking can already be seen in the body of adolescents. A combination of high alcohol intake and smoking leads to even greater damage than the consumption of alcohol and smoking alone, the experts explain. When the affected teenagers stopped smoking and drinking, however, their arteries returned to normal, the scientists report.
What is arterial stiffness?
So-called arterial stiffness indicates damage to the blood vessels. Such damage indicates an increased likelihood of heart and blood vessel problems later in life, such as heart attacks and strokes, the researchers explain.
Data from 1,266 adolescents were evaluated for the study
For their study, the scientists analyzed the data from 1,266 young people. These data came from the so-called Avon Longitudinal Study, which included parents and children and was carried out over a period of five years between 2004 and 2008. During the study, participants aged 13, 15 and 17 gave details of their smoking and drinking habits.
How did alcohol consumption and smoking affect me?
Adolescents from the high-intensity smoking group showed a relative increase of 3.7 percent in the stiffening of their arteries compared to participants from the group with low smoking intensity. Adolescents who wanted to get drunk and had more than ten drinks a day showed a relative increase of 4.7 percent in the stiffening of their arteries. Participants from the group with high smoking and high drinking intensity had a relative increase in arterial stiffening of 10.8 percent compared to those who had never smoked and consumed little alcohol, the authors explain.
Every fifth teenager aged 17 is a smoker
Damage to the blood vessels as a result of smoking or alcohol consumption occurs very early in life. When people drink and smoke, it damages the blood vessels even more. Although studies have found that adolescents have generally smoked less in recent years, the results also show that about one in five teenagers by the age of 17 was already a smoker. It was also striking that the children of smoking parents themselves started smoking more often. (as)