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Teenagers fear going blind more than lung cancer or stroke, reports research in the British Journal of Ophthalmology. But nine out of 10 don't know that smoking can lead to blindness.
Researchers polled 260 teens between the ages of 16 and 18 at four U.K. clubs. Of those polled, one in five women were daily smokers (21%), compared with one in seven (15%) young men. Clubgoers were asked if they knew that smoking caused diseases, such as stroke, lung cancer, heart disease, and blindness. Deafness, which isn't linked to smoking, was included as a control.
The link between lung cancer and smoking was known by 81% of respondents. But other diseases were not: 27% realized smoking was linked to heart disease, while only 15% realized that smoking could also lead to stroke. Just 5% knew that smoking can also cause blindness, as a result of age-related macular degeneration. Of the teens who smoked, only 2% knew it could lead to blindness.
When asked to rank their fears of each disease, teens proved far more frightened of losing their sight than any other condition. And nine out of 10 teens polled said they would give up smoking at the first signs of blindness. (The Advocate)