'No smoking....it makes you look old at early age'

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Washington, Jan 24 (UNI) Stub out that cigarette or you might end up looking old at an early age.

A University of Rochester scientist discovered that the toxins in cigarette smoke wipe out 'Sirtuin (SIRT1)'gene that plays a vital role in protecting the body from the effects of premature aging, the Science Daily reported.

Without this gene not only a bit of youthfulness is lost, but the lungs are left open to destructive inflammation and diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.

''You can be 45 years old and look great on the outside, but if you are a smoker or former smoker, your lungs can easily be 60 years old because of the chemical assault,'' said researcher Irfan Rahman.

SIRT1 belongs to a class of genes that regulate chronic inflammation, cancer and aging. When SIRT1 is highly active, or over-expressed in mice, worms and fruit flies, their life spans are greatly increased.

''This novel protein will allow us to programme our body's immune-inflammatory system against lung damage and premature aging.

The hallmark of this discovery is that we may be able to provide remedies to millions of smokers who would like to quit but cannot kick their addiction, and millions of former smokers who, despite quitting, remain at risk for illness as they age,'' Mr Rahman added.

The research is published in American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine.

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