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A recent study from the University of Southampton suggests that teenage boys who smoke or vape may jeopardize their future children’s health by increasing the risk of obesity, asthma, and impaired lung function. The study calls for stricter regulations on vaping due to concerns about passing on harmful epigenetic traits to offspring.

Teenage smoking may lead to increased risk of obesity in children

The study discovered that men who began smoking before age 15 may trigger modifications in around 14 shared genes with their offspring, impacting conditions like obesity, lung function, and asthma. Nicotine is believed to be the likely culprit behind these alterations, making vaping just as risky as traditional cigarettes for future generations.

Co-author of the study professor John Holloway said that Animal studies indicate that nicotine in cigarette smoke might cause epigenetic changes in offspring. Holloway added that while it’s uncertain if vaping will yield comparable generational effects, waiting for confirmation is unwise. Immediate action is necessary to assess the potential impact of teenage vaping.

The University of Southampton’s LifeLab program engages young individuals in illustrating ways lifestyle decisions can impact their own well-being and the well-being of their future offspring.

Dr. Kath Woods-Townsend, the LifeLab Program Manager, expresses the concern of parents, teachers, and young individuals regarding the effects of vaping. They are collaborating with their Youth Panel to gain insights into vaping’s role in young people’s lives and to develop educational resources aimed at informing them about associated risks.

Smoking during adolescence leads to epigenetic changes

This study, conducted in collaboration with the University of Bergen in Norway, is the first to elucidate the biological mechanism behind the influence of fathers’ early smoking habits on their offspring. By analyzing 875 individuals aged seven to 50 and examining their fathers’ smoking habits, the researchers discovered significant epigenetic alterations associated with 14 genes in children whose fathers had smoked before the age of 15.

Dr. Negusse Kitaba, a Research Fellow at the University of Southampton, said that epigenetic changes are more evident in children when their fathers begin smoking during puberty compared to fathers who smoked before conception.