According to somewhat surprising research, the great-granddaughters of men who smoked cigarettes as prepubescent boys were more prone to excess body fat than other peers.
The research is practically the first of its kind. Researchers involved they defined it "one of the earliest human demonstrations of the intergenerational effects of environmental exposure across four generations."
Smoking becomes a family
In summary, research has found that parental exposure to tobacco smoke can have long-term effects that go undetected for decades.
How was the study born? In 2014, epidemiologist Jean Golding and other researchers evaluated the data of a study observational called "Children of the 90s", started (in fact) in the early 90s.
in 2014 the analysis of that data found that children of fathers who started smoking before age 11 were more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI) in adolescence, with an increased average waist circumference and full-body fat mass.
A rare example of non-genetic inheritance between generations
Today, a deeper analysis of that same dataset reveals that the phenomenon extends even further across generations. Not just from father to son, but from grandfather to grandson, and even from a great-grandfather to his great-great-granddaughter.
"We found that if the nonno paternal had started smoking before puberty (before age 13), his granddaughters had signs of excess fat mass at 17 and 24 ", explain researchers in their new article.
“A boy's exposure to particular substances before puberty,” says Golding, “could have an effect on many generations to come.” People's health could be shaped by influences that until now were practically invisible to us.
One of the reasons children are overweight may simply not be due to diet or exercise, but the lifestyle of their ancestors.
Effects of smoking for generations? Further information is needed
The results of this research are explosive, and justify (if any were still needed) the efforts of some states to completely eradicate smoking. From this study, however, also arises the need to analyze much more data now. To confirm such a trend across generations, access to detailed information in many sets of studies is essential.
And most of all, it is still necessary to understand HOW these effects manifest themselves between different generations. It may be somehow just a correlation, not a specific effect caused by tobacco smoke. There is a (remote, study authors say) possibility that the subjects analyzed had a hereditary predisposition to obesity that only emerged in subsequent generations. After all, obesity is a complex disorder that arises from a complex interplay of environmental and genetic factors.
Before continuing with the investigation, I think it is important to seek confirmation.