Quit Smoking Decades Ago? You’re Still at Risk

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Some smoking-related damage can last 30 years and contribute to serious disease. But the news is not all bad.

Smoking cigarettes can permanently alter your DNA, causing health problems decades after you quit, according to a study released this week.

The study of nearly 16,000 people who have smoked found that most of the DNA damage associated with smoking disappears a few years after you give up the habit. However, some impacts last much longer, and may be contributing factors in:

  • Cancers
  • Osteoporosis
  • Lung problems
  • Cardiovascular disorders

The study findings were published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, a journal of the American Heart Association.

In an AHA press release, study author Roby Joehanes — an instructor at Harvard Medical School in Boston — says:

“Our study has found compelling evidence that smoking has a long-lasting impact on our molecular machinery, an impact that can last more than 30 years.”

However, Joehanes also notes the “encouraging news” that the majority of potential smoking-related damage to DNA reverses five years after quitting, “which means your body is trying to heal itself of the harmful impacts of tobacco smoking.”

Are you a former smoker? If so, does this news worry you? Sound off by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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