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Experts criticise study suggesting that sons of men who smoked before puberty have more body fat

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g2558 (Published 03 April 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2558
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. 1London

Leading epidemiologists and statisticians have criticised a study that claims that men who smoked regularly before puberty fathered sons with more body fat than sons of men who did not smoke or who started smoking later.

The study, published in the European Journal of Human Genetics this week, concluded that men who started smoking regularly before the age of 11 had sons who by the age of 17 years had an average 10.6 kg (95% confidence interval 5.4 to 15.9; P<0.0001) more body fat than the sons of men who did not smoke or did not start smoking regularly so early.1

At a press conference held in London on Tuesday, the researchers suggested that the findings could indicate that exposure to tobacco smoke before the onset of puberty may lead to metabolic changes in the next generation, so called transgenerational effects, which have been shown in animal studies.

For their human study the researchers, from the University of Bristol, questioned fathers and mothers about their …

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