Cigarette smoke damages DNA in reproductive cells of fathers, these changes inherited by offspring

June 22, 2012, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

When shopping for dad's Father's Day gift, consider what he gave you when you were conceived. If he smoked, your genes are likely damaged, and your odds for diseases increased. A report in the FASEB Journal shows that men who smoke before conception can damage the genes of their offspring. These inherited changes in DNA could render developing offspring susceptible to later diseases, providing evidence for quitting smoking before trying to conceive.

As you decide what to get dad for Father's Day, you might want to consider what he gave you when you were conceived. If he smoked, your genes are likely damaged, and your odds for cancers and other diseases throughout your life could be increased. A new research report appearing online in the FASEB Journal, scientists show for the first time in humans that men who smoke before conception can damage the of their offspring. These inherited changes in DNA could possibly render an offspring in the womb susceptible to later disease such as cancer. This provides evidence showing why men should be urged to stop smoking before trying to conceive in the same way women have been urged to quit. Interestingly, a fertile takes about three months to fully develop; therefore men would ultimately need to quit smoking long before conception to avoid causing genetic problems.

"That smoking of fathers at the time around conception can lead to in their children indicates that the of smoking can be transmitted through the father to the offspring," said Diana Anderson, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Bradford, in the United Kingdom. "These transmitted genetic changes may raise the risk of developing cancer in childhood, particularly leukemia and other . We hope that this knowledge will urge men to cease smoking before trying to conceive."

To make this discovery, Anderson and colleagues used DNA to measure genetic changes in the paternal blood and semen around conception, as well as maternal and umbilical cord blood at delivery in families from two different European regions in central England and a Greek island. Information regarding the lifestyle, environmental and occupational exposures of these families was taken from validated questionnaires. The combined analysis of exposures and DNA biomarkers was used to evaluate the role of exposures before conception and during pregnancy in the causation of genetic changes in the offspring. These results have strong implications for the prevention of disease.

"This report shows that smoking is a germ cell mutagen. If dad uses cigarettes, his kids will be affected even before they are born," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the . "As Father's Day approaches, family members may want to give dads and prospective dads the help they need to quit smoking for good."

Explore further: Childhood leukaemia study points to smoking fathers

Related Stories

Childhood leukaemia study points to smoking fathers

February 9, 2012
Research from Western Australia’s Telethon Institute for Child Health Research finds that heavy smoking by fathers around the time of conception greatly increases the risk of the child developing Acute Lymphoblastic ...

Pre-pregnancy diet affects the health of future offspring

July 2, 2011
Poor maternal diet before conception can result in offspring with reduced birth weights and increased risk of developing type II diabetes and obesity.

Paternal exposures can adversely affect sperm

June 20, 2011
Acording to the California Teratogen Information Service (CTIS) Pregnancy Health Information Line, more studies are needed to evaluate men and the potential effect of illnesses, medications and lifestyle habits on fertility ...

Recommended for you

Breakthrough article on mechanistic features of microRNA targeting and activity

March 23, 2018
Giovanna Brancati and Helge Grosshans from the FMI have described target specialization of miRNAs of the let-7 family. They identified target site features that determine specificity, and revealed that specificity can be ...

Boosting enzyme may help improve blood flow, fitness in elderly

March 22, 2018
As people age, their blood-vessel density and blood flow decrease, which is why it's harder to maintain muscle mass after 40 and endurance in the later decades, even with exercise. This vascular decline is also one of the ...

Scientists pinpoint cause of vascular aging in mice

March 22, 2018
We are as old as our arteries, the adage goes, so could reversing the aging of blood vessels hold the key to restoring youthful vitality?

Sulfur amino acid restriction diet triggers new blood vessel formation in mice

March 22, 2018
Putting mice on a diet containing low amounts of the essential amino acid methionine triggered the formation of new blood vessels in skeletal muscle, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. ...

Cold can activate body's 'good' fat at a cellular level, study finds

March 21, 2018
Lower temperatures can activate the body's 'good' fat formation at a cellular level, a new study led by academics at The University of Nottingham has found.

Gradual release of immunotherapy at site of tumor surgery prevents tumors from returning

March 21, 2018
A new study by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute scientists suggests it may be possible to prevent tumors from recurring and to eradicate metastatic growths by implanting a gel containing immunotherapy during surgical removal ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.