New study has found that smoking causes damage to DNA that lasts for decades. The study
had 16,000 participants and they discovered that while most of the disease footprints caused by smoking will be gone after five years, some actually will stay there forever.
Smokers were found to have a pattern of methylation changes that affect more than 7,000 genes. In short, the DNA of the smokers were altered
in a way that may change how a gene functions. May of the 7,000 genes are known to have links with smoking-related diseases such as several cancers and cardiovascular diseases.
Roby Joehanes of Hebrew SeniorLife and Harvard Medical School said
, "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.”
"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,” one of the researchers’ added.
However, some genes can still have signs of damage from smoking years later, including those genes linked to lymphoma.
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