SFBRThose who boast of blowing perfect smoke rings, might just want to pay attention to the diseases posed by the addiction. As a recent study led by the experts from the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR) apparently suggests that exposure to cigarette smoke can alter gene expression namely the process by which a gene’s information is converted into the structures and functions of a cell. It has been revealed that the whole network of genes is hampered due to cigarette smoking.

The investigators ascertained that changes in the genes lead to negatively influencing the immune system and involvement in cancer, cell death and metabolism. The study which is a part of SFBR’s San Antonio Family Heart Study (SAFHS) encompassed 40 families in the Mexican American community.

Jac Charlesworth, Ph.D., a research fellow at the Menzies Research Institute at the University of Tasmania in Australia and the lead author affirmed, “Our results indicate that not only individual genes but entire networks of gene interaction are influenced by cigarette smoking.”

Having examined 1,240 people, the authors claim to have discovered 323 novel genes whose expression levels were considerably linked with smoking behavior. Amongst the participants there were 297 current smokers. The scientists elucidate that a clear link between smoking and transcriptomics has appeared for the very first time.

Charlesworth commented, “Our results indicate that not only individual genes but entire networks of gene interaction are influenced by cigarette smoking. It is likely that this observed effect of smoking on transcription has larger implications for human disease risk, especially in relation to the increased risk of a wide variety of cancers throughout the body as a result of cigarette smoke exposure.”

Previously conducted studies highlighted the gene expression as influenced by smoking have been seriously confined in size with the largest of the in vivo studies including only 42 smokers and 43 non-smokers. Also, a prior investigation claimed cigarette smoking to change the heart shape. During the latest study, the alterations were detected after analyzing the activity of genes within white blood cells of the participants.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Azar and Shepperd families of San Antonio, ChemGenex Pharmaceuticals and the AT&T Foundation.