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Chaldean Parents Were Right; Teen Smoking Proves Harmful and Ugly
By Brenda Hermiz :: Tuesday, January 6, 2009 :: 21355 Views :: Health & Fitness

California, USA – The double standard in the Chaldean community always was a point of contention.  Why is it okay for men to smoke, but not women?  Some argue the double standard was required by Chaldean men living in a Muslim dominated society where smoking was seen as a male’s passage to adulthood and encouraged.  

The society pressures seem to be a strong force as American society continues to grow in disgust with smokers.   Chaldean men living in western society show a significant decrease in smoking compared to their Middle Eastern counterparts.  However, the increase in Chaldean women smokers versus their counterparts is staggering, but understandable, given the freedoms and consumer coaching aimed at women who have come a long way to light-up.

Stories abound in the Chaldean community of fathers and mothers disgusted at the sight of young American teenage girls smoking at school.  Some of the stories go so fat as to say that the parents refused to allow their daughters to enroll in the school, opting instead to home school. 

So whatever happened to those teen girls who defiantly puffed away as gawking Chaldean parents drove by worried as to what their child was being exposed to.  A new study says those insecure girls have grown up to be fat and are now costing society in hefty healthcare costs.

According to the study in the February 2009 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, girls who smoke cigarettes are at greatest risk, particularly for abdominal obesity. Their waist sizes are 1.34 inches larger than nonsmokers’ waists are as young adults, But smoking in adolescence did not necessarily predict weight problems for men, according to the study.

Scientists and lead study author Suoma Saarni, a researcher with the Department of Public Health in Helsinki writes that a correlation exists between women’s weight and smoking.  However, she added, “We do not know why smoking did not affect men’s weight, as we do not know why smoking affected women’s weight.”

The study followed twins born between 1975 and 1979 with questionnaires mailed shortly after their 16th birthdays. Researchers collected more data on the 2,278 women and 2,018 men when the twins were in their 20s.

Scientists looked at twins to take into account familial or genetic factors affecting smoking and weight gain, Saarni said. Half of the participants had never smoked, and 12 percent were former smokers in adolescence. About 15.5 percent of men and 9.4 percent of women smoked at least 10 cigarettes daily.

By the time participants reached their 20s, weight problems became evident. By age 24, roughly 24 percent of men and 11 percent of women were overweight. However, male smokers were not necessarily more prone to become overweight than nonsmokers.

The young women who smoked were 2.32 times more likely to become overweight than nonsmokers, according to the study.

The difference could be either biological or cultural, Saarni said. Biologically, it might be that tobacco and gender specific hormones interact differently in girls and boys in ways that affect appetite and fat distribution.

“My hunch is that women are more likely to smoke for weight control, especially in adolescence,” said Sherry Pagoto, assistant professor in clinical psychology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “When people do quit smoking, one of the reasons they gain weight is that they increase their consumption of foods. They’ll start snacking at the times they used to smoke.”

Ironically many teenagers who start smoking do so to overcome insecurities only doom their life to years of insecure weight gain.  Sadly, the teens who want to quit will find it practically impossible once they get started and are way more likely of living a socially stigmatizing and condemning life.  

Another study from the Université de Montréal confirms that most teenagers who smoke cigarettes make repeated attempts to quit but most all are unsuccessful.

The study found that teen smokers make their first serious attempt to quit after only two and a half months of smoking, and by the time they have smoked for 21 months they have lost confidence in their ability to quit.  The study's lead author and a researcher from the Université de Montréal's department of social and preventive medicine, Dr. O'Loughlin analyzed data from 319 Montreal teens. 

The teens completed reports on their smoking habits every three months for five years. The study found that teen smokers progress through stages or milestones in their attempts to stop smoking. These stages are:

  1. Confidently declaring that they have stopped smoking forever, one to two months after their first puff;
  2. Expressing a conscious desire to quit with a growing realization that quitting requires serious effort;
  3. Over the next two years, as cravings and withdrawal symptoms increase, gradually losing confidence in their ability to quit;
  4. A year later, they are smoking daily and now realize they still smoke because it is very hard to quit;
  5. About two years after starting to smoke cigarettes daily, teen smokers are showing full-blown tobacco dependence.

The study found that more than 70 percent of the teens expressed a desire to quit, but only 19 percent actually managed to stop smoking for 12 months or more by the end of the five-year study. Girls were more likely than boys to want to quit and to attempt quitting, but unable to.

Participants were aged 12 to 13 at the beginning of the study. For these novice smokers it took about:

Nine months after their first puff to become monthly smokers;

  • 19 months after their first puff to become weekly smokers;
  • 23 months after their first puff to become daily smokers.
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