It is common knowledge smoking is not good for your health but did you know smoking changes your genes, according to new findings from Uppsala University and Uppsala Clinical Research Center.
Researchers found smoking alters several genes that can be associated with health problems for smokers, such as increased risk for cancer and diabetes.
We inherit our genes from our parents at birth. However, later in life the genetic material can be changed by chemical alterations of the DNA the affect the activity of the genes.
Such alterations are normally caused by ageing but can also result from environmental factors and lifestyle.
During the study, researchers analyzed how the genes changed in smokers and non-smoke tobacco users.
They could identify a large number of genes that were altered in smokers but found no such effect of non-smoke tobacco.
”This means that the epigenetic modifications are likely not caused by substances in the tobacco, but by the hundreds of different elements that are formed when the tobacco is burnt,” said lead researcher Åsa Johansson in a press release.
Previous research has shown that smokers are at an increased risk of developing diabetes and many types of cancer, and have a reduced immune defence and lower sperm quality.
The conclusion of the study showed genes that increase the risk for cancer and diabetes, or are important for the immune response or sperm quality, are affected by smoking.
”Our results therefore indicate that the increased disease risk associated with smoking is partly a caused by epigenetic changes. A better understanding of the molecular mechanism behind diseases and reduced body function might lead to improved drugs and therapies in the future,” said Johansson.