Smoking Can Permanently Damage Your DNA, Study Finds

Posted: Sep 20 2016, 10:52pm CDT | by , Updated: Sep 20 2016, 10:59pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Smoking can Permanently Damage your DNA, Study Finds
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Smoking cigarette leaves long lasting impact on human DNA and can cause to alter more than 7,000 genes linked to several smoking-related diseases

Smoking has a long-lasting impact on human DNA that can remain even years after quitting. 

According to a new research, smoking cigarettes can harm human genome and alter it in a way that it can lead to the development of several chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease and stroke. 

The analysis of the blood samples taken from 16,000 participants reveals that most of the negative effects of smoking fade over time after quitting. But some can persist for years after smoking cessation. Even the imprints of smoking on DNA could persist as long as 30 years. 

“We ended up finding a large signal, an order of magnitude more than any individual studies have seen.” Study author Dr Stephanie London from National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences told MedPage Today.

“We found changes in at least one site in about 7,000 genes, which is a lot. We saw many more signals, so this is really a pretty comprehensive look at what smoking does genome wise.” 

For the study, researchers closely looked at a process called DNA methylation which results in modifying the function of DNA. The process was observable in DNA extracted in the blood samples of around 16,000 people who participated in 16 studies conducted over the years. The participants included current smokers, ex-smokers and those who never smoked. 

Researchers found that smoking damages DNA in clear patterns. People who were smoking cigarette had an obvious DNA methylation pattern, which was affecting more than 7,000 genes, or one-third of known human genes. Researchers also found that those who stopped smoking were able to revert to normal pattern seen in people who never smoked.

“Our study has found compelling evidence that smoking has a long-lasting impact on our molecular machinery, an impact that can last more than 30 years," said Roby Joehanes from Harvard Medical School. 

“The encouraging news is that once you stop smoking, the majority of DNA methylation signals return to never-smoker levels after five years, which means your body is trying to heal itself of the harmful impacts of tobacco smoking.”

According to CDC, smoking causes 1 in 5 deaths in U.S. every years and accounts for 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths. Quitting smoking lowers the risk of smoking-related diseases and adds years to a person’s life.

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The Author

Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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