Secondhand Smoke Causes Genetic Changes, Study Says

Secondhand smoke isn’t good, I think we all know that. But it might be more than bad for your health, it may also be bad for your genes.

A study led by Dr. Ronald Crystal at Weill Cornell Medical College has shown that people exposed to secondhand smoke will see altered genetic activity in people who are not smokers themselves.
The study consisted of 121 subjects, half of which had never smoked, and half of which had in the past or still did smoke. Their airway cells were studied, so that the scientists could see the difference between those who had direct exposure, and those who had indirect exposure.

Out of these studies they identified 372 active genes that only smokers have, but non-smokers do not. However, when those non-smokers were exposed to secondhand smoke, 34% began to show those genes as active, just from exposure.

While more tests will need to be run, this is only the latest in a long line of studies that have shown the harmful nature of cigarettes and secondhand exposure. This has led to an almost global ban, which is expanding further and further, from restaurants to airplanes to public streets.

The study also pointed out that there was no major differences in the lung cell activity of those who smoked one cigarette or five. The amount was unimportant when it came to genetic behavior, and instead they all activated in the same way.

The findings are expected to strengthen the argument for public efforts to quit the habit.

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