It is a known fact that smoking is bad for your health and can damage a lot of organs in your body but do you know that smoking also changes your DNA? Well, it does. We are not talking about altering genetic code or genetic modification that will give you some special abilities; we are talking about the genetic damage that will increase your chance of developing cancer and other variety of dreadful diseases.
Generally, smoking alters thousands of genes in the body, while some of this genetic damage may fade over time_ years after quitting; some genes alteration takes decades to recover if the damages are not permanent.
Although it was once believed that we were born with a fixed set of genes and these genes cannot be altered but According to a recent study made by scientist, DNA changes has been identified in our body through a process called Methylation. Methylation is one of the mechanisms that are responsible for how our genes are expressed and how those genes expressions affect our health.
This genetic Methylation is responsible for some development of health conditions. Environment and live style are part of the factors that always impact the way genes Methylation occur, in some cases, Methylation can turn on or off some genes which as a result have health implications on the body and will effectively change how the body responds to the change.
Smoking Affects DNA Methylation
Researchers now found that smoking changes DNA Methylation. According to Dr. Stephanie London research on DNA methylation, they found that smokers had a pattern of DNA methylation changes which affects thousands of genes. Methylation can turn on, or off some genes and alter how they function and their expression. Some of these changes in the genes expression from methylation have been linked to both the development of cancers, cardiovascular disease and other forms of smoking related diseases.
According to the study, some of these changes in the DNA caused by smoking will disappear within the period of five years after quitting but some DNA Methylation effect can last for decades. Effect of DNA Methylation on gene like TIAM2 which is associated with lymphoma can persist for 30 years or more.
Smoking can also affect DNA Methylation of a child if exposure prenatally to a cigarette. The effect of this DNA methylation always surface has the child grows to adulthood. Although, smoking during pregnancy has been well known to affect the baby, but the recent study shows that prenatal cigarette exposure also has long-term health conditions for the baby due to the genetic alteration from the exposure. Child postnatal exposure to cigarette can increase their risk of behavioral and developmental problems.
Dr. Stephanie London research is able to uncover the fact that Smoking Changes Your DNA and Increases Your Risk of Disease, but further study is ongoing in DNA methylation and the research are focused on understanding the amount of damage and the level of consequences the damage to the DNA can have on the body.