Smoking weakens cancer protection genes

Smoking weakens cancer protection genes In smokers, the genes that are supposed to protect against cancer are significantly weakened. British researchers have discovered another reason for this in a comprehensive study: smoking has a massive impact on the genetic makeup of those affected. Z Smoking is the leading cause of cancer worldwide.

Methyl groups switch off genes The scientists from the Institute of Cancer Studies in Birmingham were able to demonstrate how the pollutants ingested from tobacco use affect the hereditary system of smokers. Accordingly, methyl groups are formed around vital genes, whereby these genes are switched off. The gene p16, which is supposed to help the organism to protect itself from cancer, was particularly badly affected.

Three times higher risk for smokers Yuk Ting Ma explains that her team examined 2,000 young women between the ages of 15 and 19, with some of the participants starting to smoke after the study began, but the remaining women remained abstinent. Among other things, the attachment of methyl groups to the p16 gene was the focus of the researchers' interest. They came to the conclusion that tobacco consumption tripled the risk of methyl groups attaching to the p 16 gene. "Women who started smoking later were at increased risk of p16 methylation," said Yuk Ting Ma at the presentation of her study results at the Cancer Conference in Milan.

Smoking changes the function of more than 300 genes It has long been known that smoking has an effect on the function of the genes. For example, the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio, Texas recently published a study that identifies more than 300 genes whose functions are altered by smoking. How the change in function due to the ingested pollutants works has not yet been clarified. The British researchers have now taken a good step further with the discovered process of methyl group attachment to the genes. This may also explain why tobacco consumption affects not only individual genes, but entire networks of genes.

It is obvious to the scientists that the changed function of the genes is directly related to the diseases caused by cigarette smoke. Because the attachment of the methyl groups and the correspondingly changed gene activity have a negative impact on the immune system, since many of the genes relevant for the defense against pathogens are severely impaired in their function. Because this affects genes in particular, which are supposed to protect the organism from cancer, the high number of cancers among smokers is partly due to the changed gene functions. (fp, 17.10.2010)

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