NHS Leadership

Damage to Sperm Through Smoking

We have all heard about the dangers of passive smoking but now young men who smoke will have to start thinking about the future of their offspring. According to research carried out at the University in Bergen, Norway, fathers who smoked before conceiving their children, predicted asthma in the children they later conceived. This risk increased if the father smoked before the age of fifteen and the longer the father smoked, the more the risk increased. There was however no correlation between the smoking mother and children who had asthma. More on this study can be read here.


The results from this study were recently presented at the European Respiratory Society’s International Congress in Munich, and are also published in the journal, Science. Aside from smoking, this research offers valuable insight into the general health issues we pass on to the next generation. We are already aware of the significant changes a woman needs to make in her life before conceiving and carrying a baby but it looks like the father’s health history could have a substantial impact on the future health of the child too, long before conception.


A researcher at the University of Adelaide explains that research is only recently focusing on how ill health is stored in the father’s sperm and the mother’s eggs, and then passed on to their children. This process is known as epigenetics and is a growing area of interest within the scientific and medical communities. It means that drinking, smoking and a poor diet are suspected to predict the health of a future child, even years before pregnancy. Although an association was highlighted between smoking fathers and asthma risk in children, no concrete cause and effect evidence was gleaned.


Experts are suggesting though that policy makers take this information seriously and target young men in order to incentivize them to stop smoking or to avoid taking up the habit in the first place. Let’s face it, it’s difficult enough to get people to stop smoking these days, even with the onslaught of gruesome images depicting smoking related tumours on cigarette packs, and the constant bombardment of facts regarding smoke related illnesses and fatalities. I find it hard to imagine that young men will base their decisions on the future of children they don’t yet have, children they might never have. However, according to the researchers who carried out the survey study, this knowledge will certainly have an impact on how we educate and think about other risk factors such as air pollution and chemical exposure, and the health of the yet unborn future generations.


To get advice on giving up smoking, we recommend speaking to your GP. It is unlikely that the NHS will prescribe medication to help quit smoking but you will get counseling free of charge. If you want to bypass the counseling and get drug intervention the help you give up, there are reputable private healthcare providers that we assist in this regard. One such provider that is long-established with a good reputation is The Online Clinic. You can contact a doctor at The Online Clinic free of charge here.

Copyright 2014 NHS Leadership. All Rights Reserved