Study: Men who started smoking as boys could be more likely to father obese sons
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent and i. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; four times highly commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigations into the tobacco industry. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Wednesday 02 April 2014
Men who started to smoke before the age of 11 are more likely to have overweight teenage boys compared to men started smoking later in life or who have never smoked at all, a study has found.
Scientists said that the teenage sons of fathers who started smoking when they were themselves children were on average significantly fatter than other teenage boys, which indicates that tobacco smoke can lead to metabolic changes in the next generation passed on through the sperm.
The research, funded by the Medical Research Council, was carried out on nearly 10,000 fathers who enrolled in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. However, of the 5,376 men who said they were smokers at some time in their lives, only 166 reported starting before the age of 11.
Nevertheless, scientists led by Professor Marcus Pembrey of the University of Bristol found that the sons of these early smokers had on average between 5kg and 10kg more body fat than their peers by the time they were teenagers. No significant effect was seen in the daughters of the male smokers, the researchers said.
“This discovery of trans-generational effects has big implications for research into the current rise in obesity and the evaluation of preventative measures. It is no longer acceptable to just study lifestyle factors in one generation,” Professor Pembrey said.
“We are probably missing a trick with respect to understanding several common diseases of public health concern by ignoring the possible effects of previous generations,” he said.
When measured for body fat at ages 13, 15 and 17, the sons of the men who said they started smoking before 11 were consistently fatter than the sons of men who started smoking later or who had never smoked, according to the study, published in the European Journal of Human Genetics.
Other scientists were however sceptical of the claims, suggesting that the findings may simply be a chance event, rather than being statistically significant, given the relatively small sample size.
“The main claim of this report is unjustified. This study does not provide good evidence that fathers who started to smoke before age 11 have fatter teenage children as a result,” said Professor Sir Richard Peto, a medical epidemiologist at Oxford University.
- 1 VMAs 2015: Was Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus' awkward acceptance put-down real or staged?
- 2 If you're not already angry about the migrant crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
- 3 Rules on 5p plastic bags likely to lead to arguments at the check-out
- 4 Chaos breaks out in courtroom as father attacks killer of three-year-old daughter
- 5 I like Corbyn, but let's face it: we don't need another white man at the head of a political party
VMAs 2015: Was Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus' awkward acceptance put-down real or staged?
Bank Holiday Monday opening times: Are Tesco, Asda and other supermarkets open today?
Rules on 5p plastic bags likely to lead to arguments at the check-out
The nine most warmongering countries in the world revealed
Isis releases graphic video showing four Shia 'spies' being burned alive in Anbar, Iraq
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...
£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exceptional opportunity has arisen for a pa...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...