Genetic Changes On Children With Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Linked To Parental Smoking

A new research revealed the link between parental smoking to the development and progression of acute lymphoblastic leukemia or ALL. The research regarding the association of parental smoking to the disease was the first study to link the specific gene changes of the cancer cells.

Researchers came up with a study wherein they were able to find a concrete connection between parental smoking and the genetic changes in the tumor cells of cancer. Lead researcher of the study, Adam de Smith, and the rest of his team were the first group of people who came up with the specific correlation of smoking and the evolution of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children.

The study, which primarily focused on the specific gene changes in cancer cells, explained the effects of parental smoking to the changes in tumor cells of cancer. The researchers found that acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the most common type of cancer in children and even though it can be cured, the cause remains unknown.

"Our research is focused on trying to find risk factors for childhood leukemia, in the hope that one day we might be able to prevent this disease," de Smith stated during his interview with CBS. "Large-scale sequencing studies to identify genetic changes in tumor cells will be important for investigating other risk factors for childhood cancers."

Children diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia have 90 percent survival rate as the condition can still be cured according to de Smith. There are cases, however, that ALL can potentially evolve to secondary cancer, heart diseases and other serious illnesses due to chemotherapy.

De Smith and his team came up with 599 samples derived from patients with ALL in California. They then checked if there were gene deletion that took place in patients with smoking parents. The data revealed that there is a 22 percent increase in the number of deletions for each cigarette being smoked during pregnancy.

"These deletions are not inherited from parents but are acquired in the child's immune cells, so we think the more important windows of tobacco exposure are during pregnancy and after birth," de Smith explained via email, according to Reuters.

Dr. Marte Reigstad, a researcher at Oslo University Hospital in Norway who isn't involved with the study, highlighted the importance of the parents' health in terms of raising their child. Cutting smoking and living a healthy lifestyle could effectively cut the risk of developing cancer.

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