Teenage girls who smoke or take the oral contraceptive pill are at greater risk of heart disease than boys who smoke, according to researchers at The University of Western Australia.
Their study, published in the Journal of Lipid Research, found higher levels of C-reactive protein - linked to cardiovascular disease - in girls who smoked and were not using oral contraceptives, compared to girls who smoked and were taking the contraceptives, and boys who smoked, of the same age.
Lead author Dr Chi Le-Ha, from UWA's School Medicine and Pharmacology and based at Royal Perth Hospital, said the researchers had surveyed more than 1000 adolescents using the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study, a Perth-based longitudinal cohort of children born in Western Australia between 1989 and 1992.
"Our findings support the important role of C-reactive protein in cardiovascular disease risk prediction, and in particular, cardiovascular disease risk assessment in women," Dr Le-Ha said.
"Given that both smoking behaviour and C-reactive protein levels track from childhood to adulthood, the findings help explain why cardiovascular disease risk conferred by smoking is higher in women than in men."
The study follows the same research team's findings, published last year in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, that teenage girls exposed to passive smoking faced a greater risk of heart disease than teenage boys.