Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

Smoking can Permanently Damage DNA – But Quitting can Heal Some Wounds

Published on October 10, 2016 by   ·   No Comments

smoking cigarettes DNA damage

NaturalSociety

A new study published in the American Heart Association (AMA) journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics finds that smoking cigarettes affects the human genome in the form of DNA methylation. [1]

If you quit smoking, the majority of the damage goes away, but not all of it. Translation: smoking causes some permanent damage.

Affecting 1/3 Of Known Human Genes

For the study, researchers analyzed blood samples from nearly 16,000 participants from 16 groups included in the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genetic Epidemiology (CHARGE) Consortium. One of the groups came from the Framingham Heart Study that researchers have followed-up since 1971.

Compared with lifelong smokers, the researchers found that DNA methylation sites associated with smoking were linked to more than 7,000 genes which account for 1/3 of known human genes.

The team determined that while most of the DNA methylation sites in former smokers returned to levels observed in people who never smoked after about 5 years, some of the sites remained even 30 years after quitting smoking.

Said Roby Joehanes of Hebrew SeniorLife and Harvard Medical School:

“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.” [2]

He went on:

“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.”

The team had not associated some of the affected genes with the damage caused by smoking before. Joehanes and his colleagues said it might someday be possible to use affected genes as “markers” to determine who is at risk for smoking-related diseases in the future.

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