(NaturalPath) In a story picked up by NBCNews.com, a study found that smoking scars DNA in clear patterns and while most of the time the damage fades over time, not all of the damage goes away. The study included 16,000 people and revealed that lots of disease-causing genetic footprints do fade after five years after quitting smoking, but some stay forever.

According to the story, these marks are made in a process called methylation, which is an alteration of DNA that can inactivate a gene or change how it functions – often causing cancer and other diseases.

“Our study has found compelling evidence that smoking has a long-lasting impact on our molecular machinery, an impact that can last more than 30 years,” said one researcher. “The encouraging news is that once you stop smoking, the majority of DNA methylation signals return to never-smoker levels after five years, which means your body is trying to heal itself of the harmful impacts of tobacco smoking.”

Adding on to the research Dr. Stephanie London of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, who directed the team said, “These results are important because methylation, as one of the mechanism of the regulation of gene expression, affects what genes are turned on, which has implications for the development of smoking-related diseases. Equally important is our finding that even after someone stops smoking, we still see the effects of smoking on their DNA.”

Clearly, quitting smoking has benefits to your life no matter when you stop – even at the molecular level. But also, it doesn’t completely clean the slate, so it is always advisable to never smoke at all.

raziRazi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review (ndnr.com) and NaturalPath (thenatpath.com), has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self-proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.

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