Teen smokers do damage early on

 
By Shayna Brouker • Published: November 30th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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Teens may think they’re invincible and immune to all sorts of ailments and accidents, but new research shows they’re never too young to get hurt. Researchers at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute found that smokers as young as 8 to age 20 already had damage to their arteries from smoking.

Scientists surveyed almost 300 teens on their smoking habits and found that, compared with nonsmokers, weekly and monthly smokers had thicker arteries, called atherosclerosis, a trait that could lead to restricted blood flow and heart disease. The teens in the study had only been smoking for two years.

It’s a scary statistic, coupled with one that says about 45 percent of high school students in the U.S. have tried cigarettes. What’s more, studies show that nine in 10 smokers start using tobacco before they’re 18.

If the potential for heart disease doesn’t get them to quit the stick, maybe these unsightly symptoms of smoking will. Smoking causes sallow, uneven skin tone, and can show especially quickly in young people. The 4,000 chemicals found in cigarettes cause skin to lose its elasticity and sag, especially in the arms and breasts. The habit can also increase the likelihood of developing sun spots, a mark usually reserved for the elderly. Then of course there are the telltale puckered lips, yellow teeth and nails, cataracts and even hair loss. It’s hardly the image of youth.

But quitting can turn it all around. Blood flow will improve, sending more oxygen and nutrients to the skin. The yellow tint to nails and skin will fade, and teeth might actually get whiter. And not to mention, your heart will be happier as arteries widen and let blood flow back to the heart. It’s a win-win for inner and outer beauty.