Although the headline itself is almost completely self-explanatory, the details are of interest. Researchers at the University of Bradford found that smoking harms the father’s DNA, and these damaged genes can be inherited by his children, increasing the risk of youngsters developing childhood cancers, particularly leukemia. Dr. Diana Anderson suggested that since a fertile sperm cell takes three months to fully develop, fathers should kick the habit 12 weeks before conceiving to avoid the risk.
The Bradford Telegraph and Argus provides even more details. In their June 25th story entitled "University of Bradford study highlights smoking risk for dads-to-be", they report that researchers used two sensitive biomarkers to measure single and double strand breaks in the DNA of the paternal blood and semen in the period around conception, as well as maternal and umbilical cord blood at delivery. The families in the study were drawn from Bradford in the United Kingdom and Heraklion on the Greek island of Crete. Information regarding the lifestyle, environmental and occupational exposures of these families, which can influence DNA, was taken from questionnaires. They then used a combined analysis of exposures and DNA biomarkers to help differentiate the role of the various exposures before conception and during pregnancy, which could result in genetic changes in the developing embryo.
Oh, and if you go back to the Daily Mail story, you'll read that scientists at the University of Glasgow have also found that men who drink lots of tea are far more likely to develop prostate cancer. They found that those who drank seven or more cups a day had a 50 per cent higher risk of contracting the disease than men who had three or fewer. The warning comes after researchers tracked the health of more than 6,000 men for four decades.
Actually, the original warning was first revealed by the Prophet Joseph Smith on February 27th, 1833. While Joseph Smith was unlikely to have been aware of any such things as "DNA markers", he was aware of the mind of the Lord, who revealed unto him this counsel subsequently published in Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants:
5 That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.
6 And, behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.
7 And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.
8 And again, tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill.
Joseph Smith's successors, acting on continuing inspiration, have subsequently defined the Word of Wisdom as proscribing coffee, tea, alcohol, and tobacco. Abstinence from those four substances is the litmus test of temple access.
Want more scientific validation of the Word of Wisdom? Read my previous post from February 7th, 2012 entitled "More Scientific Validation For The Word Of Wisdom: London Researchers Discover Connection Between Smoking And Early Dementia". And my post of May 19th, 2009, entitled "Why LDS Church Leaders Imply That Cola Drinks Violate The Spirit Of The Word Of Wisdom: New Study Shows Cola Drinks Contribute To Hypokalaemia", reports on a study outlining hazards associated with cola drinks. While cola drinks are not an actionable part of the Word of Wisdom, LDS leaders have discouraged their consumption nonetheless.
Millions of Latter-day Saints chose not to wait upon the word of science. Instead, they accepted the word of a prophet, and as a result, enjoy health in their navel, marrow in their bones, can walk and not be weary, can run and not faint, and find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge. The Lord didn't tell Joseph Smith why we should obey the Word of Wisdom; instead he merely revealed it to him, and promised blessings to those who obeyed it.
As Spencer W. Kimball once said, "Faith precedes the miracle".