Premature Aging Toll of Smoking, Heavy Drinking Now Measurable in DNA
That cigarette and that tumbler of single-malt scotch have been known to make you look older – and not just with a look of sophistication.
Cigarettes and heavy drinking have been known to cause premature aging – not just with skin wrinkles, but with internal organ deterioration. Now the damage to DNA caused by the stress can be measured and calculated, according to a team of geneticists from the University of Iowa.
The lab focused in on two specific locations in the genome. They found that the DNA methylation levels at the base pairs cg05575921 on the AHRR gene and cg23193759 on chromosome 10 provided a better measure of substance use and abuse than even the subjects’ self-reported usage, they reported Thursday at the American Society of Human Genetics meeting in Baltimore.
“These new tools allow us to monitor smoking and alcohol use in an objective way, and to understand their effects quantitatively,” said Meeshanthini Dogan, one of the researchers.