Children exposed to cigarette smoking may have a higher risk of developing heart disease, due to the impact of second-hand smoke on heart health, according to the American Heart Association (AHA) journal Circulation.
The following highlights exposure to secondhand smoke and escalating life insurance rates:
- Kids exposed to their parents’ smoking had a higher risk of developing clogged arteries in adulthood than those with non-smoking parents.
- Researchers stressed that parents should not smoke if they want to provide the best long-term cardiovascular health for their children.
The study’s results add to the growing evidence that exposure to smoking from parents has a lasting effect on children’s cardiovascular health in adulthood.
Researchers tracked participants in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study, which included childhood exposure to parental smoking in 1980 and 1983. They collected carotid ultrasound data in adulthood in 2001 and 2007.
In 2014, researchers measured participant’s childhood blood cotinine levels from samples collected and frozen in 1980. Cotinine is a biomarker of passive smoke exposure.
The percent of children with non-detectable cotinine levels were highest among households where neither parent smoked (84 percent), decreased in households where one parent smoked (62 percent) and were lowest among households where both parents smoked (43 percent).
Regardless of other factors, the risk of developing cartoid plaque in adulthood was almost two times (1.7) higher in children exposed to one or two parental smokers compared to children of parents who did not smoke. Moreover, risk was elevated whether parents seemed to limit their children’s exposure:
- Almost two times (1.6) higher in children whose parents smoked, but seemed to limit their children’s exposure.
- Four times higher in children whose parents smoked but did not seem to limit their children’s exposure.
“Although we cannot confirm that children with a detectable blood cotinine in our study was a result of passive smoke exposure directly from their parents, we know that a child’s primary source of passive smoke exposure occurs at home,” said Costan Magnussen, Ph.D., study lead author and senior research fellow at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania.
Researchers stressed that to provide the best long-term cardiovascular health for their offspring, parents should not smoke. However, “For parents who are trying to quit smoking, they may be able to reduce some of the potential long-term risk for their children by actively reducing their children’s exposure to secondhand smoke (i.e., not smoking inside the home, car, or smoke well away from their children),” Magnussen said. “Not smoking at all is by far the safest option”.
When it comes to life insurance, the same applies. Though secondhand smoke will not cause an insurance company to charge a non-smoker the rates of a smoker. Technically, the insurance companies allow for a certain amount of metabolized nicotine in the system in the event of secondhand smoke.
The medical exam (blood and urine tests) will determine if you are a smoker or not. If you quit and have not smoked for three years, your rates are more favorable. For moms with young children who have quit smoking or plan to quit, the following determines the best rates available without other health conditions:
30 Year Old Female, 10 year term rates $100,000
- None for 5+ years: $7.07 per month
- None in the last 3 years: $7.77 per month
- None in the last 12 months: $9.77 per month
- Current Cigarettes: $14.53 per month
35 Year Old Female, 10 year term rates $100,000
- None for 5+ years: $7.07 per month
- None in the last 3 years: $7.86 per month
- None in the last 12 months: $9.86 per month
- Current Cigarettes: $15.48 per month
40 Year Old Female, 10 year term rates $100,000
- None for 5+ years: $8.12 per month
- None in the last 3 years: $9.34 per month
- None in the last 12 months: $12.03 per month
- Current Cigarettes: $19.35 per month
The impact of second-hand smoke on heart health is a serious issue and the receivers of the second-hand smoke are often time unable to take action to avoid exposure. So it is up to adults and caregivers to make wise choices to protect others from the harmful byproducts of cigarette smoking.
Want to learn more about life insurance? Read our article The Most Frequently Asked Life Insurance Questions.