Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook


The Fertility Show


 

Men who smoked before teens may father fatter sons

07 April 2014

By Dr Kimberley Bryon-Dodd

Appeared in BioNews 749

Smoking before puberty may lead to men fathering fatter sons, suggesting that lifestyle factors can have adverse impacts on the next generation, a study has found.

The research found that men who smoked regularly before age 11 fathered sons who had five to ten kilograms more body fat than the sons of men who did not smoke, or started smoking after age 11. The researchers said this could indicate that exposure to tobacco smoke before puberty might lead to epigenetic changes in metabolism in the next generation, passed on through the male line.

Senior author of the study, Professor Marcus Pembrey, said: 'This discovery of trans-generational effects has big implications for research into the current rise in obesity and the evaluation of preventative measures'. He added: 'It is no longer acceptable to just study lifestyle factors in one generation'.

A similar effect on increased Body Mass Index (BMI) was also observed in the daughters of fathers who smoked before age 11, but to a much lesser extent. However, no such association was found between when a mother started smoking and body fat of her children.

The results of this study should be interpreted with caution as the authors themselves state that there are a number of weaknesses in this study. In particular, less than one percent of all the fathers questioned started smoking regularly before age 11. Together these men fathered only 13 sons, leading some experts to comment on the significance of the findings based on the small sample size.

Dr Graham Burdge, researcher of human nutrition at the University of Southampton, told Reuters the findings 'may potentially provide new insights into factors that may influence development of obesity in childhood', but 'the findings only show associations and cannot be interpreted as indicating that paternal smoking at an early age causes obesity in their sons'.

He added that, 'A possible alternative interpretation is that that exposure of parent and child to a common environment has an effect on the child's BMI that might be influenced by the lifestyle of the father'.

Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London, commented that: 'The data are persuasive but not yet definitive as we need to confirm the same smoking related epigenetics changes in the kids' DNA'.

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

08 August 2016 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey 
The general public have appropriated the term DNA to mean much more than just the molecule itself. This may not be a problem most of the time but, in the case of donor eggs and sperm in particular, it's important that people are clear on what genetics and epigenetics really tell us...
31 May 2016 - by Rachel Reeves 
A research review suggests that cannabis use damages DNA, and claims that this damage can be inherited...
21 December 2015 - by Rikita Patel 
Women exposed to high levels of passive smoking have an increased risk of experiencing infertility, according to research...
28 September 2015 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
Health and genetic data from the UK Biobank has revealed new genetic associations between smoking and lung cancer, including five areas of DNA for the first time associated with heavy smoking.
01 September 2015 - by Professor Marcus Pembrey 
Human studies of transgenerational responses are fraught with difficulties, but definitely worth pursuing...

31 March 2014 - by Dr Charlotte Warren-Gash 
A DNA blood test for children aged five can help predict body fat levels when they are aged nine to 14, a small study suggests...
02 December 2013 - by Siobhan Chan 
Mice that were conditioned to fear a specific smell passed down this fear to their offspring, suggesting that traumatic events can affect gene expression...
15 July 2013 - by Emily Hoggar 
Exercise directly affects which genes are expressed or silenced, causing fat cells to function differently, according to a study in PLOS Genetics...
03 May 2011 - by Dr Kimberley Bryon-Dodd 
An international study has found an association between lower consumption of carbohydrates during early pregnancy and the activity of a gene thought to be linked to increased fat levels in children...

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


- click here to enquire about using this story.

Published by the Progress Educational Trust

CROSSING FRONTIERS

Moving the Boundaries of Human Reproduction

Public Conference
London
8 December 2017

Speakers include

Professor Azim Surani

Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge

Sally Cheshire

Professor Guido Pennings

Katherine Littler

Professor Allan Pacey

Dr Sue Avery

Professor Richard Anderson

Dr Elizabeth Garner

Dr Jacques Cohen

Dr Anna Smajdor

Dr Andy Greenfield

Vivienne Parry

Dr Helen O'Neill

Dr César Palacios-González

Philippa Taylor

Fiona Fox

Sarah Norcross


BOOK HERE

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation