Cigarette smoke robs kids of antioxidants

May 5th, 2009 - 3:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 5 (IANS) Exposure to tobacco smoke robs children of antioxidants, which shield the body against many biological stresses.
A study by the University of Rochester Medical Centre (URMC) looked at the levels of antioxidants in comparison to the amount of smoke exposure in more than 2,000 children aged between 6 and 18 in the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

“It’s always wise to feed children (exposed to cigarette smoke) an abundance of fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants and other healthy nutrients,” said study author Karen Wilson, senior instructor of paediatrics at URMC.

Antioxidants are believed to play an important role in protecting the body’s cells against free radicals, which are produced during many body processes including when we use oxygen and respond to infections.

It is not completely understood how antioxidants work together to neutralise free radicals, but scientists continue to discover more antioxidant compounds, including those examined in the study - vitamins E and C, folate and beta-carotene.

Children’s exposure to tobacco smoke was determined by the level of cotinine in their blood. Cotinine is a byproduct of metabolising tobacco smoke.

The higher the level of cotinine in a child’s blood, the lower the antioxidant level, after controlling for diet and supplements, said a URMC release.

The study was presented at the Paediatric Academic Society Meeting in Baltimore.

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