A new study finds that smoking cigarettes can leave a lasting imprint on DNA. This bad habit can alter more than 7,000 genes, which in turn can contribute to the development of smoking-related diseases, such as cancer, COPD, heart disease, and more. Cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 6 million deaths each year, according to the study.
In a review of blood samples from nearly 16,000 adults, DNA was compared between current smokers, former smokers, and non-smokers. Study authors say that some genetic changes were found in smokers that remained even 30 years after cessation. However, the sooner you stop smoking, the better off you are. Most genes “recovered” within five years for those who kicked the habit.
Source: Joehanes R, Just A, Marioni R, et al. Epigenetic signatures of cigarette smoking. Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, Oct 2016; 9(5): 436-447.