As if we needed another reason to stay away from cigarettes, a new scientific study has discovered that smoking does permanent damage your DNA. Scientists have found that gene alteration caused by smoking is linked to pulmonary function, cancers, inflammatory diseases and heart disease. While some DNA damage seemed to be reversed after approximately five years of not smoking, other damage lasted a lifetime.
The study tested the blood of 16,000 smokers. They established that some DNA damage lasted decades. “The marks are made in a process called methylation,” NBC News explains. “Which is an alteration of DNA that can inactivate a gene or change how it functions — often causing cancer and other diseases.”
According to the study’s findings, smoking cigarettes changed nineteen different genes. The TIAM2 gene (linked to lymphoma) is one of them. The damage to this specific gene was found to still exist even after 30 years of a non-smoking lifestyle.
With that said, quitting is still important! “The encouraging news is that once you stop smoking, the majority of DNA methylation signals return to never-smoker levels after five years,” says Roby Joehanes of Hebrew SeniorLife and Harvard Medical School. “Which means your body is trying to heal itself of the harmful impacts of tobacco smoking.”
Cigarette smoke causes 480,000 deaths in the United State each year, according to the CDC. It puts you at a risk of a multitude of health issues and is responsible for 80% of all lung cancer cases.
This is just another reason to steer clear of smoking, folks!