Smoke Puts the Pressure on Boys

High blood pressure found in boys exposed to secondhand smoke

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Once again, research is showing that second-hand smoke can seriously affect those who breathe it. Second-hand smoke may even have a lasting effect on children, according to a recent study.

Researchers found that boys who are exposed to second-hand smoke have an increased risk of high blood pressure as adults. However, second-hand smoke did not seem to increase girls' risk of high blood pressure. In fact, girls who breathed in second-hand smoke had lower blood pressures than those who did not.

"Second-hand smoke can raise blood pressure in boys."

According to lead author Jill Baumgartner, Ph.D., a research fellow at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment, these findings back up some past studies that showed there is something about being female that may protect against some of the harm done by second-hand smoke.

However, the study's results have important implications for boys who live with smokers, as high blood pressure increases the risk for life-threatening health problems like heart disease and kidney disease.

This study, says Dr. Baumgartner, suggests that the heart-related effects of tobacco smoke may start very early in life.

She concludes saying that the link between second-hand smoke and blood pressure found in this study is one more reason governments should pass laws that ban smoking and protect children from second-hand smoke.

The Study

  • Researchers looked at data from four National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys that were held between 1999 and 2006
  • 6,421 youths were included in the study
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke was measured through reports of whether the children lived with a smoker, and through the children's levels of cotinine - the result of the body breaking down nicotine
  • Boys between 8 and 17 years of age who were exposed to second-hand smoke had a much higher systolic blood pressure than boys who were not exposed to second-hand smoke
  • Girls who were exposed to second-hand smoke had a lower blood pressure than girls who were not exposed to second-hand smoke 
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Review Date: 
May 11, 2011
Last Updated:
May 12, 2011