Smoking accelerates aging and its damage can be passed on to children

Tobacco kills. Messages on tobacco packages warn of this, and the data reflects it. According to the Spanish Ministry of Health, more than 50,000 people die from smoking in Spain every year, which is more than those who die from traffic accidents and illegal drugs combined. In Europe, this number reaches 1.2 million. These figures make it the world’s number one preventable cause of disease, disability and premature death, according to the World Health Organization. It causes countless diseases: more than 95% are lung cancer, more than 90% are bronchitis, more than 30% are coronary heart disease…and there are more. Two recently published studies suggest it can speed up the aging process and its damage can be transmitted to children. «Father’s smoking during adolescence linked to DNA changes. “Smoking by the mother during pregnancy is not only harmful,” emphasizes Joseba Zabala, a public health doctor at the Association for the Prevention of Smoking in Basque Navarre.

The key to understanding why tobacco causes us to age faster lies in the telomeres of white blood cells. Telomeres are like little sheaths on the ends of shoelaces that prevent them from fraying. Its function in our cells is to protect chromosome ends. Each time a cell divides, these sheaths shorten slightly. They eventually become so short that the cell cannot divide and dies. This is part of the aging process. What tobacco does is shorten their lifespan. «Our study shows that smoking and the amount of smoking lead to shortening of leukocyte telomere length, which is an indicator of tissue self-repair, regeneration and aging. In other words, smoking accelerates the aging process, and quitting smoking can significantly reduce the associated risks. Dr. Dai Siyu of the University of Hong Kong presented her findings at the association’s international congress, the European Respiratory Research event, held recently in Milan, confirming the results of the Spanish work presented in 2015.

To come up with these results, we analyzed data from nearly half a million people in the UK to find out whether they currently smoke, have ever smoked or have never smoked, their level of addiction and their telomere length. “We found that current smoking is statistically significantly associated with shorter leukocyte telomere length,” they emphasize, adding that the number of cigarettes matters. “People who smoke more have significantly shorter white blood cell telomeres.”

«Fathers are important too»

As we all know, smoking affects more than just the smoker himself. And not just from exposure to non-smoking smoke. «The harms of tobacco are passed on to future generations. Not only on the mother’s side, but on the father’s side as well. ” explained Dr. Zabala, referring to a paper published in late August by the University of Southampton and the University of Bergen. They concluded: “Paternal smoking before conception, especially during adolescence, is associated with increased DNA levels in offspring. It is related to basalization and increases the risk of asthma, low lung function and obesity in offspring. “Fathers are also important,” insists Dr. Zabala. He explained that the risks of smoking also include skin aging, effects on metabolic syndrome, and even a possible link to autism. His message was clear: “Recommendations are not enough.” Measures such as raising tobacco prices and increasing smoke-free spaces must be taken. Nothing has changed since 2010.

Teens who smoke e-cigarettes more likely to suffer from chronic stress

A study conducted in Canada claims that young people who use e-cigarettes are more than twice as likely to suffer from chronic stress. Researchers asked 905 people between the ages of 15 and 30, 115 of whom admitted to vaping. “Chronic stress can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression,” the researchers stressed, recalling that previous research showed they were also more likely to suffer asthma attacks.

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