Does smoking permanently damage your DNA?
Recent studies show that it just might!
According to a study that was published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, it seems that smoking may indeed cause long term (or even permanent) damage to your DNA. The study was called ‘Epigenetic Signatures of Cigarette Smoking’, and can be found here.
Apparently, this damage can last for years after you’ve already quit the habit – and the affected genes have strong correlations to several smoking-related illnesses (cancer and heart disease included).
The study was first received on January 19, 2016, a revision was received on August 1, 2016, and it was formally accepted by the journal on August 16, 2016 – making it a pretty new study.
The science behind it was quite complex – but here’s a quote from the conclusions section of the study abstract…
“Cigarette smoking has a broad impact on genome-wide methylation that, at many loci, persists many years after smoking cessation.”
It goes on to say this at the end of the conclusion…
“Methylation at these sites could also serve as sensitive and stable biomarkers of lifetime exposure to tobacco smoke.”
In essence, this study is confirming that stress caused by the act of smoking itself causes methyl groups to be placed on strands of DNA where they otherwise wouldn’t show up. Such damage is technically ‘mutagenic’. It can also lead to cancer. Of course, most of this damage will go away and repair itself over time, after the smoker has stopped smoking – but as this study has shown, some of it persists long-term – which is even worse news for smokers.
The co-author of the study, Dr. Stephanie London, made the following statement in regard to the study. It was published on hightimes.com. You can view the source article here.
“These results are important because methylation, as one of the mechanisms of the regulation of gene expression, affects what genes are turned on, which has implications for the development of smoking-related diseases.”
She also said this in the statement…
“Equally important is our finding that even after someone stops smoking, we still see the effects of smoking on their DNA.”
What does this mean for smokers?
To put it plainly, it means that smoking is just as dangerous (and perhaps even more so) than we’ve ever understood it to be. And while quitting smoking will reduce both the short and long-term risks of smoking-related diseases, like heart disease and cancer, quitting certainly isn’t as safe as never starting in the first place.
To a certain degree, some smoking damage may never repair itself.
This puts to bed the myth that cigarette smokers can just quit a year or two down the road and suffer no complications because of it. In other words, if you were planning on getting away with smoking right now and just quitting before you suffer any major medical problems, you might want to reconsider your strategy.
Better yet – if you’re not a smoker yet and are considering buying your first pack of cigs, you might just want to turn around and spend your money on something else – because once you start, there’s a chance that your DNA won’t quite ever be the same.
E-cigs can provide a safer alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes, and they’ve been making a pretty big splash in the UK since Public Health England found them to be up to 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes during a major scientific review.
And despite the fact that the EU is getting ready to crack down on the nicotine part of vaping with new regulations, the UK E-cig market is showing no signs of slowing down.
Information! If anything, England is becoming one of the most vaping-friendly countries in the world – which means that smokers who’ve been trying to quit might have a new ally in the fight against nicotine addiction.
If you’ve never tried an E-cig before and are looking for an alternative that’ll still give you an enjoyable nicotine experience while you wean yourself off of it, then you might want to give your local vape shop a visit and see what all the fuss is about.