Smoking has been often associated with progression of a variety of other diseases and speedy progression of aging. However, not all smokers are bound to die early. A latest study suggests that long-lived smokers might possess extraordinary gene variants, helping them survive to extreme ages.
In a study conducted by the researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), the team studied the genetic makeup of long-lived smokers. The researchers discovered that the survival of such individuals may be dependent on the innate resilience present in them since their birth.
During the study, the research team identified a set of genetic markers called SNPs in smokers. SNPs are a sequence of DNA, commonly present within a population. The researchers found that SNPs allowed some individuals to withstand and mitigate the environmental damage, including those caused by smoking. The team associated the collective occurrence of such SNPs with high survival rate among the smokers.
“There is evidence that these genes may facilitate lifespan extension by increasing cellular maintenance and repair. Therefore, even though some individuals are exposed to high levels of biological stressors, like those found in cigarette smoke, their bodies may be better setup to cope with and repair the damage,” said the author of the study, Morgan E. Levine, in a statement.
Therefore, the researchers concluded that longevity not only depends on the damage caused by the environmental factors but also on the genetic framework in an individual. Such genetic network tends to impact the genomic stability and the stress resistance.
The researchers believe that the long-lived smokers represent a biologically distinct group. This particular group of smokers possesses genetic variants that allow them to respond differently to the stress factors. The team further said that the same genes that promote long survival in smokers might also be the one important for cancer prevention, since genomic instability is an authentication of cancer pathogenesis.