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Cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, and serum lipid profile among medical students in Greece

Ioannis N. Mammas, George K. Bertsias, Manolis Linardakis, Nikolaos E. Tzanakis, Demetre N. Labadarios, Anthony G. Kafatos
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/13.3.278 278-282 First published online: 1 September 2003


Background: The lack of data regarding health habits of medical students in Greece prompted a cross-sectional study to assess tobacco use, alcohol consumption and serum lipoprotein levels among students in the University of Crete School of Medicine. Methods: A self-administered questionnaire on smoking and alcohol consumption was distributed to third-year medical students for twelve consecutive years (1989–2000). A total of 849 students (462 males, 387 females) participated in the survey. Biochemical measurements were taken and multi-variant analysis of the data was performed. Results: The prevalence of smoking among males and females was 33.2% (N=150) and 28.4% (N=108), respectively (mean cigarette consumption 13/day). As many as 349 males (77.2%) and 220 females (58.0%) reported consuming alcohol on a regular basis. The prevalence of low HDL-cholesterol (<0.9 mmol/l) was 14.5% in males and 5.1% in females, and of high LDL-cholesterol levels (>4.1 mmol/l) in 11.1% of male and 5.5% of female participants. Smoking was related to higher triglyceride (p=0.032), and lower HDL-cholesterol (p=0.037) serum levels. Total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and the TC/HDL-cholesterol ratio were strongly related with the level of smoking (p=0.006, p=0.008, and p=0.006 respectively). Conclusions: The results document a high prevalence of smoking among physicians-to-be in Greece. Tobacco use was strongly associated with a lipid profile predisposing to increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Health promotion programmes should therefore be instituted not only during the first years of medical studies, but rather at a much earlier stage in life.

  • alcohol, lipoproteins, medical students, tobacco

Received 30 November 2001. Accepted 5 June 2002.