Boys who suffer from asthma are less likely to smoke as teenagers, according to a new Italian study.
An epidemiologist at the University of Verona, Giuseppe Verlato, asked participants to recall whether they smoked between the ages of 11 and 20 and if they had suffered from asthma as young children.
The results stated that 49 percent of men who smoked as teens did not have asthma in their childhood. This compared to 35.6 percent of men who smoked as teens and had asthma as children.
Though, the shielding effect did not apply to girls. For women, 39.4 percent without childhood asthma began smoking before age 20 compared with 41.2 percent of those with asthma.
"Smoking as an asthmatic is kind of like trying to put out a fire with gasoline. You're adding a lot of inflammation to the type of inflammation that's already there," said John Carl, head of the pediatric pulmonology department at Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital.
The study notes that adolescents with asthma are more prone to psychological problems because of negative social perceptions resulting from their disease.
"For girls with asthma, smoking could be a way to increase self-esteem, which has been shown to be lower in girls than boys," the authors wrote.
Carl said other factors affect whether a person starts smoking or not including socio-economic status, race and parents' smoking habits.
The study appears online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.