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Links Between Smoking, Leukemia Deletions

Parents' smoking has been linked to genetic changes seen in tumor cells from children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, CBS News reports.

A University of California, San Francisco-led team of researchers analyzed connections between leukemia-linked genomic deletions and prenatal and early-life tobacco smoke exposure. As they report in Cancer Research, they found that associations between the number of deletions and maternal ever smoking, smoking during pregnancy, and smoking during breastfeeding. For instance, the researchers reported a 74 percent increase in the number of deletions per five cigarettes smoked daily during breastfeeding.

As CBS News notes, the strongest association was seen among parents who smoked during pregnancy, though it adds that an effect was still seen among parents who quit even before becoming pregnant.

"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," first author Adam de Smith tells CBS News.

The authors note that a limitation of their study is its reliance on parents recalling their smoking behavior.