A person who starts smoking at age 12 is more at risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality than one who has done after age 18, concludes a study led by scientists from the Hospital del Mar Institute of Medical Research (IMIM) ), doctors from the Hospital del Mar and the Center of Biomedical Research in Network for Cardiovascular Diseases (CIBERCV). The study is published in the journal Preventive Medicine.
The work, led by Roberto Elosua and Jaume Marrugat, of the IMIM, and Albert Clarà, of the Hospital del Mar, has followed for more than 7 years a group of 4,499 adults , aged between 25 and 79 years, of the study REGICOR (Registre Gironí del Cor), smokers or who previously smoked (they were distributed almost 50% between the two groups). The study analyzed if during this period they have developed a cardiovascular disease or have died for this or another reason.
According to the data, during this period 361 people died and 210 had a cardiovascular disease, such as a myocardial infarction, angina pectoris or cerebral stroke.
As noted by Elosua, the last signatory of the study, “for each year of precocity at the beginning of tobacco consumption, the risk of mortality increases by 4%. That is, an adult who started smoking at age 12 is 4% more likely to die in the next 7 years than a person who started smoking at 13, and this is 4% more risk than another who started smoking at 14. ”
Albert Clarà explains that “this excess risk is especially important in those people who started smoking before age 12, and especially affects the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.” Researchers believe that the cardiovascular system is especially sensitive to the toxic effects of tobacco at these ages.
Avoid tobacco use among the youngest
The data of the study reinforce the work to avoid that the youngest ones begin to smoke. Jaume Marrugat highlights “the importance of continuing to fight against the consumption of tobacco, especially at the early ages of life.” In fact, two out of every three smokers in Europe start in the habit before the age of 18, with an average age of 16.6 years. In Spain, the average age of onset of tobacco consumption is lower, at 14.6 years. In addition, approximately 9% of the population between 14 and 18 years old smokes.
Smokers have double the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke compared to non-smokers. This risk is even greater in cases of atherosclerosis in the legs. It is also a risk factor in other pathologies, such as nephropathy, intestinal ischemia, aortic dissection and cancer. In addition, the early onset of tobacco use is associated with psychiatric disorders, asthma, lung cancer and other diseases.