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Arteries Age Twice as Fast in Smokers
Date:4/26/2010

ng by years, not by day, but the damaging effect of smoking was clear over the long run.

The finding gives doctors one more argument to use in their continuing effort to get smokers to quit, said Dr. David Vorchheimer, associate professor of medicine and cardiology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

"One of the challenges that physicians face when trying to get people to stop smoking is the argument, 'Well, I've been smoking for years and nothing has happened to me yet,'" Vorchheimer said. "What this study emphasizes is that the damage is cumulative. The fact that you've gotten away with it so far doesn't mean you'll get away with it forever."

The stiffening of arteries is "one of the earliest and most subtle changes that occur" in smokers' bodies, Vorchheimer said. "Some people's arteries can be safe for a few years. The good thing about that is the possibility that the damage will heal if you give up smoking."

Another notable aspect of the study was the analysis of the effect of smoking on C-reactive protein, a molecular marker of inflammation that appears to play a role in cardiovascular disease. The study found no relationship between blood levels of C-reactive protein and arterial stiffening.

That finding adds one more piece to the puzzle of C-reactive protein and cardiovascular disease that researchers are trying to assemble, Borden said. "We're still trying to understand the role of CRP, whether it's a cause or a marker of other factors that lead to cardiovascular disease," he said.

More information

The physical damage done by smoking is outlined by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.



SOURCES: William B. Borden, M.D., M.B.A., assistant professor, medicine, Nanette Laitman Clinical Scholar in Public Health, Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York City; Davi
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