The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Can smoking affect who you are?
Smoking is bad. Not only can it be a large contributor to the development of lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but it’ll take time off your total lifespan, all while gradually eroding your quality of life. In essence, cigarettes and tobacco will make you sick, and although there are treatments available, the best way to avoid the negative effects of smoking is to not smoke. And after years of government-sponsored public service announcements (PSAs) the realities of smoking are largely understood. However, what has come to light in a recent study on the long-term effects of smoking may change the way we view tobacco from this point forward. Did you Know: Smoking Affects Your DNA?
With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to break down the effects of smoking on long-term health, and what long-term exposure can mean for the health of yourself and loved ones.
What is DNA?
DNA or Deoxyribonucleic Acid is a molecule that carries the genetic instructions used for development, growth, functioning and reproduction for all known living organisms. These instructions are used to determine every aspect of who you are, using genetic code from both your mother and your father, to decide whether you’ll have blue eyes or brown, blonde hair or black, or whether you’ll be tall or short.
However, this information is constantly replicated as you grow and your cells divide. Normally, these cells will replicate themselves and die, but in rare cases the original cell will continue to live and function. These cases are referred to as mutations, and although these mutations can at times be beneficial (as in the case of evolution) they can also cause a variety of health problems.
Unfortunately, the numerous chemicals inherent in tobacco smoke are known to cause these mutations frequently, which ultimately means that smoking can change your DNA as well as the DNA you pass on to your children.
How Smoking Affects Your DNA?
As we mentioned before, a recent study put forth by the American Heart Association has found that after checking the blood samples from more than 16,000 people (current, former, and people who have never smoked), the effects of smoking on DNA are wide-reaching and more persistent than originally thought, lingering long after a person has stopped smoking. Researchers discovered evidence of a “long-term signature” in tobacco’s user’s DNA that’s considered to contribute to diseases associated with smoking.
What was examined in particular was the study’s focus on cigarettes’ effect on DNA methylation, a factor which regulates gene expression. Methylation is known to happen in genes linked to smoking-related diseases, such as cancers, osteoporosis, and lung and cardiovascular disorders. This is especially poignant as one-third of known genes in smokers were found affected.
So What Can I Do About It?
The first step is to quit smoking. Although the effect of smoking on DNA is a serious concern, the upside is that many of the harmful effects of smoking on DNA can be recovered within five years of quitting. However, changes in 19 genes, included the TIAM2 gene, which is linked to lymphoma, lasted 30 years.
It’s important to understand the harmful effects of smoking and how smoking affects your DNA, so you can stay informed on your health. Although COPD can seem insurmountable, the first step to living a longer life is finding a treatment that addresses the disease head-on. Changing one’s diet and consistently exercising are among the best lifestyle changes one can do aside from quitting smoking. However, if you’re looking to address COPD progression directly, it may be time to consider stem cell therapy. Rather than only addressing the symptoms of lung disease, stem cell therapy directly affects disease progression and can improve quality of life and pulmonary function. For people with lung disease, a change in quality of life could mean the difference between struggling to walk to the mailbox and riding a bike.
If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic disease like ILD, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis or other symptoms of lung disease, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of adult stem cell treatment options. Contact us today at (800) 729-3065 to see if you qualify for stem cell therapy, and find out what stem cell therapy could mean for you.
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