New research dispels myth that cigarettes make teenage girls thinner



    But smoking may stunt the growth of teenage boys

    MONTREAL, March 24 /CNW/ - New research, funded by the Canadian Cancer
Society, shows that teenage girls who smoke cigarettes are no more likely to
lose weight than girls who don't smoke, dispelling a commonly-held belief. In
addition, boys who smoke cigarettes show a decrease in height as well as body
mass index (BMI). These findings could have important public health
implications, especially since many young girls cite weight control - or the
desire to be runway model thin - as a reason for taking up smoking.
    The findings, published online in the journal Annals of Epidemiology, are
based on data collected from the Nicotine Dependence in Teens study (NDIT).
Researchers collected detailed information every three months over a five-year
period from 1,293 Montreal teens between the ages of 12 and 17.
    The research team, led by Canadian Cancer Society-researcher Dr. Jennifer
O'Loughlin at the University of Montreal, measured the teens' height, weight,
and tricep skinfold thickness. They also gathered information on many other
variables, such as levels of physical activity, dietary habits, and teens'
worry about weight.
    The study shows that a boy who smokes 10 cigarettes a day from age 12 to
17 will be about an inch shorter than a boy who does not smoke at all.
    "We were surprised to find that there was no link between smoking and
weight among teen girls because it's something that many of us take for
granted," said Dr. O'Loughlin. "We can only hope that girls will think twice
about taking up smoking now, if weight loss is one of their goals." She said
teenage boys' growth may be stunted by smoking because they generally reach
puberty later than girls, and are therefore more likely to still be growing
when they start smoking. "Maybe teenage boys will see smoking as a bad
decision if they dream of being a quarterback or star basketball player," said
Dr. O'Loughlin.
    Dr. Barbara Whylie, CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society, says: "This study
has enormous potential to prevent teenagers from taking up smoking and has
tremendous implications for public health and tobacco control messaging. We
are very proud to have funded such a worthwhile project."

    The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of
volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and to enhance the quality of
life of people living with cancer. It is the largest charitable funder of
cancer research in Canada. This year, the Society is funding close to
$47 million in leading-edge research projects across the country. When you
want to know more about cancer, visit our website at www.cancer.ca or call our
toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.





For further information:

For further information: Alexa Giorgi, Bilingual Communications
Specialist, Canadian Cancer Society, (416) 934-5681, agiorgi@cancer.ca;
Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins, Press attaché, Université de Montréal, (514)
343-7593, sylvain-jacques.desjardins@umontreal.ca


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