Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease, contributing to more than one-third of deaths from heart disease annually, according to a 2008 estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A toxic compound in cigarette smoke slows the production of “good” cholesterol, new research shows.
Cigarette smoking’s association with heart disease has been known for decades, but researchers have not been certain what chemicals or molecular processes in the body form the basis of that link. The new findings concerning the effect of benzo(a)pyrene on high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, are published in the journal Life Sciences.
“Smoking-related health hazards are well-recognized, and the role of smoking in promoting premature heart disease is widely appreciated,” said Arshag D. Mooradian, senior author of the study and a professor and chair of the department of medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville. “The novelty in our study is the finding of yet another mechanism by which smoking can accelerate heart disease through reduction of the ‘good’ cholesterol that normally protects the heart.”