Smoking Could Bar Helpful Vitamin C

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Smoking might lower levels of vitamin C and therefore increase the risk of death for smokers and their children. Medical scientists at the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine in the United Kingdom found healthy adults with high blood levels of vitamin C had half the risk of death than people with lower levels of vitamin C.

The British researchers say vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, preventing harmful processes throughout the body by removing chemicals called free radicals. Physicians at the University of Medicine of New Jersey in New Brunswick add that high levels of free radicals in tobacco smoke may lower levels of vitamin C in smokers and children subjected to secondhand smoke.

The New Jersey research team studied nearly 3,000 children and teenagers ranging in age from four to 18. Smokers' children averaged 20 percent less vitamin C, and the more the parents smoked, the lower the levels of the vitamin. The British researchers reported their results in the journal Lancet, while the U.S. team published their findings in the journal Pediatrics.