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Smoking is linked to various health risks, including lung cancer, heart diseases, and diabetes. Recent research has shown that smoking also leads to chromosomal damage and accelerates the aging process. However, quitting smoking can help reduce these risks.

Smoking shortens white blood cells’ telomeres

In the research, researchers examined data of approximately half a million individuals sourced from the U.K. Biobank. The review yielded the discovery that tobacco consumption has a diminishing effect on the length of telomeres within white blood cells. These telomeres are pivotal in regulating the pace of the aging process and the cell’s capacity for repair.

Telomeres which are repetitive DNA sequences safeguarding chromosomal ends, akin to shoelace tips preventing unravelling shorten during cell replication, leading to tissue aging when they become too short for cell division.

Dr. Siyu Dai, who presented the research findings at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Milan, Italy, said that one’s smoking habit and the number of cigarettes consumed can lead to a reduction in the length of leucocyte telomeres. These telomeres serve as indicators of tissue self-restoration, rejuvenation, and the aging process. In simpler terms, smoking can expedite the aging process, whereas quitting smoking may significantly reduce the associated risk.

Previous research found that smoking impacts telomere length in white blood cells but did not specify the extent. In latest study, researchers assessed participants’ smoking status (current, former, or never smokers), addiction level, and cigarette consumption. They also measured telomere length through blood tests.

Findings to support treatment recommendations for smoking cessation

The research employed Mendelian randomization, a method that leverages inherited gene variations to investigate the impact of environmental factors on diseases or health conditions.

Researchers anticipate that their discoveries will inspire greater backing and expanded treatment alternatives for those contemplating ending their smoking habit.

Considering the evident health advantages of quitting smoking, it is now imperative to incorporate support for cessation, in addition to treatment, into routine clinical care. Dr. Dai emphasized the importance of these measures in the pursuit of establishing a tobacco-free environment for future generations.