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Cigarette Smoke Alters DNA in Sperm, Genetic Damage Could Pass to Offspring

to the duration of exposure, so the longer you smoke the more mutations accumulate and the more likely a potential effect may arise in the offspring,' Yauk said.

According to Yauk, previous studies have shown that Ms6-hm and similar locations of non-coding DNA are sensitive to damage from radiation, mutagenic chemicals and intense industrial air particulate pollution. While the researchers did not specifically study the protein-coding regions of DNA where genes reside, Yauk notes that previous studies correlate mutations in non-coding regions with those in coding regions, and that some repetitive regions of DNA (not exam-ined in this study) are associated with genes.

'It stands to reason that mutations could also interfere with genes, but our ongoing research looks to clarify the severity of DNA damage throughout the genome,' said Yauk. 'So, while some men say theyll quit smoking after their child is born, this represents a good reason to quit well in advance of trying to conceive.'

Among the next steps in gaining a better understanding of the germline genetic health conse-quences of smoking, Yauk and her colleagues plan to study how altered DNA manifests itself in the children and grandchildren of male mice that are exposed to firsthand smoke. They also plan to study the effects of secondhand smoke on male mice as well the possibility that the eggs of females are affected by smoke.


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