Smoking Permanently Damages Your DNA, Study Finds

Smoking Permanently Damages Your DNA, Study Finds

'Smoking scars DNA in clear patterns, researchers reported Tuesday. Most of the damage fades over time, they found — but not all of it.

Their study of 16,000 people found that while most of the disease-causing genetic footprints left by smoking fade after five years if people quit, some appear to stay there forever.

The marks are made in a process called methylation, which is an alteration of DNA that can inactivate a gene or change how it functions -- often causing cancer and other diseases.

"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," said Roby Joehanes of Hebrew SeniorLife and Harvard Medical School.


...smoking-related changes in 19 genes, including the TIAM2 gene linked to lymphoma, lasted 30 years, the team found.'

From NBC News coverage of Epigenetic Signatures of Cigarette Smoking; American Heart Association, Cardiovascular Genetics: circgenetics.ahajournals.or...

NBC News coverage:

The mentioned TIAM2 gene linked to lymphoma is the T-Cell Lymphoma Invasion And Metastasis 2 gene.

While CLL doesn't get a specific mention, we have a higher risk of secondary cancers, with skin and lung cancers most common. One study found that '85% of the lung cancer patients were smokers. The lung cancer was at least twice as common in men compared with its incidence in women, and the diagnosis was made approximately 8 years after the diagnosis of CLL. Along with a poor performance status, the presence of CLL was found to be a limiting factor for delivery of treatment for the lung cancer.'

and also

Irrespective of the risk of lung cancer, anaemia is a common complication as CLL progresses and fatigue can be a problem at any stage, so why make it harder for your body to have access to life giving oxygen?


Photo: Not smoke, snow, frost or hail, but gossamer spider webs draping the countryside

2 Replies

  • An important sentence from Neil’s post.

    ‘’ Most of the damage fades over time, they found — but not all of it.’’

    My emphasis..

    VERY sadly I know of instances whereby the smoking damages were only discovered in later life. They stopped smoking many years ago but still the damage was done.

    Of course it is back to genetics, and doubtless we all know of a person who smoked but it had apparently no effect and they lived into a ripe old age. My grandmother being a prime example, who lived to 94, and still was smoking..

    But there is some recent good news.

    ‘ Smoking rates in England fall to lowest on record ‘

    Smoking.. Why.?? Video.

    Dick ( Widowed )

  • Great photo of the webs!

    I smoked for only a few years in my early 20's but was raised in a household of chain smokers so intense that they would leave lit cigarettes going in every room as they lit another. Since I have a history of two types of cigarette exposure, I am not certain that my quitting over-rode long term effects.