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Smokers reach maximum levels of a cigarette pollutant in just 15-30 minutes

A researcher from the University of Minnesota has found that smoking can cause damage to genes in a matter of minutes, which could then lead to cancer.

Stephen Hecht, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Wallin Chair in Cancer Prevention, along with a team of researchers, have discovered that the first inhalation from a cigarette is enough to cause genetic damage in minutes.

Many believed it took years for cigarettes to cause any harmful effects to the body, but this study is the first to actually observe how tobacco substances relate to DNA damage when smoking. It is also different from any other smoking-related study because it strictly tracks the effects of smoking without "interference" from other harmful causes such as poor diet and pollution.

To study how a cigarette's contents impact human DNA, Hecht and his team used 12 volunteers to track PAHs, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are pollutants found in tobacco smoke. PAHs can also be located in charred barbecue food and coal-burning plants. One specific type that Hecht was particularly interested in tracking was phenanthrene, which is in cigarette smoke. 

The team observed the phenanthrene as it traveled through the blood, and watched as it destroyed DNA and caused mutations that lead to cancer. 

"The smokers developed maximum levels of the substance in a time frame that surprised even the researchers," said the study. "Just 15-30 minutes after the volunteers finished smoking. These results are significant because PAH diol epoxides react readily with DNA, induce mutations, and are considered to be ultimate carcinogens of multiple PAH in cigarette smoke."

The results are also significant because lung cancer claims the lives of 3,000 people worldwide each day, and 90 percent of these deaths are linked to smoking. With high death rates like these, it's worth researching what the effects really are. 

"The results reported here should serve as a stark warning to those who are considering starting to smoke cigarettes," said Hecht. 

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By vol7ron on 1/17/2011 10:20:41 AM , Rating: 3
Sounds like a scare tactic. Plus, I'd think 3,000 deaths worldwide is extremely low. I thought the numbers would be much higher.

What about the impact of car exhaust and other air pollutants?

RE: Hmm
By Iaiken on 1/17/2011 10:44:24 AM , Rating: 5
Plus, I'd think 3,000 deaths worldwide is extremely low. I thought the numbers would be much higher.

My guess is that it's a botched article caused by a reading comprehension fail on the authors part.

Each year, an estimated 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million have a serious illness caused by smoking.

an estimated 3,000 nonsmoking Americans die of lung cancer

These are the 2009 figures.

RE: Hmm
By The Raven on 1/17/2011 11:08:02 AM , Rating: 2
Good catch but have to make sure that this part is clear...
an estimated 3,000 nonsmoking Americans die of lung cancer

Each year, primarily because of exposure to secondhand smoke , an estimated 3,000 nonsmoking Americans die of lung cancer

Also (just an FYI) not all people who have lung cancer are people who smoke. I heard about this problem on NPR.
A Wikipedia citation says:
In the United States, smoking is estimated to account for 87% of lung cancer

That means that based on the article's source smoking related lung cancer numbers, nearly 20,000 people die of lung cancer without any exposure to tobacco.

And that pretty much matches up with what some other Wikipwedia citations state...
10–15% of lung cancer patients have never smoked. That means between 20,000 to 30,000 never-smokers are diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States each year. Because of the five-year survival rate, each year in the U.S. more never-smokers die of lung cancer than do patients of leukemia, ovarian cancer, or AIDS.

This info has little to do with the article but I thought it is something that people should be aware of in case you start to have symptoms as a non/never-smoker.
Cancer sucks. Period.

RE: Hmm
By omnicronx on 1/17/2011 12:05:07 PM , Rating: 2
Not sure if it was changed, but it says 3000 each day, not each year.

RE: Hmm
By Samus on 1/17/2011 7:42:10 PM , Rating: 3
If charred BBQ causes even remotely similar levels of DNA damage like they suggest, human's would be mutated beyond recognition by now.

We've been char-grilling and char-broiling our food since we discovered fire.

RE: Hmm
By Shadowmaster625 on 1/17/2011 10:55:23 AM , Rating: 2
It has to be a typo. The op should never have let that go.

RE: Hmm
By Argon18 on 1/17/2011 11:17:48 AM , Rating: 2
Read it again, you've missed the time frame for those 3000 deaths worldwide. It says 3000 deaths per day . That equates to about 1.1 Million deaths annually.

RE: Hmm
By Iaiken on 1/17/2011 12:15:31 PM , Rating: 4
Originally it said year. The article was revised. :P

RE: Hmm
By Hiawa23 on 1/17/2011 2:35:05 PM , Rating: 4
Honestly, anyone with a brain has to know putting harmful carcinogenic smoke in your body isn't good. do you really need anymore proof that smoking isn't good for you? I say if you want to slowly kill yourself lighting up, more power to you but the sad thing is innocent people get caught up with secondhand smoke.

RE: Hmm
By MartyLK on 1/17/11, Rating: -1
RE: Hmm
By Smilin on 1/18/2011 11:02:00 AM , Rating: 3
Ex smoker here. It's a split personality thing.

Suppose you say "hey man smoking is bad for you, does blah blah, kills kittens etc.."

If a smoker has recently had a smoke they'll readily agree with you and maybe mention how they need to quit.

If a smoker hasn't had one in a while you'll be disagreed with or even vigorously argued with.

Smokers know good and well the crap is bad. They know it makes their clothes smell. They hate standing in the cold to smoke. All that stuff... this isn't news to them. They just have another factor strongly influencing them that outweighs this knowledge.

Shame on the manufacturers for even selling this crack. By some measure it removes freewill from otherwise intelligent people. It's evil.

RE: Hmm
By a1trips on 1/18/2011 11:16:41 AM , Rating: 2
i am not sure why your comment was rated down.There is more than an iota of truth in it. Also, it would be true of all addictive disorders. Denial vs Reality.. ad infinitum.. until the cycle breaks

RE: Hmm
By stimudent on 1/17/2011 12:36:00 PM , Rating: 2
All the exhaust from vehicles, the artificial colorings and artificial flavors of soft drinks, candy, Doritos... No one can really say what the long term effects are going to be on stuff like that. Don't forget what could happen down the road from the cleaning products such as bathroom and window cleaners when they get absorbed into the skin. Cigarettes are just the tip of the ice berg, but always a good start.

By The Raven on 1/17/2011 10:22:47 AM , Rating: 5
Smoking Cigarettes Causes Genetic Damage

Genetic damage also causes smoking of cigarettes!

RE: Paradox!
By Pirks on 1/17/2011 1:26:15 PM , Rating: 3
natural selection FTW!

RE: Paradox!
By xti on 1/18/2011 9:25:52 AM , Rating: 3
smoking looks cool and you all know it.

Study taken way out of context
By dawza on 1/17/2011 12:43:35 PM , Rating: 5
There is nothing in this study that proves any mechanistic link between cigarette smoke and DNA damage, cancer, or the devil.

The very title of the study mentions that it is correlative, and it is clearly a chemistry-based analysis of a metabolite of a particular polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH- which, BTW, are a large group of compounds that for the most part are NOT known human carcinogens) that MAY have carcinogenic effects at best, and currently, seems to be nothing more than a urinary biomarker for exposure to the parent compound.

I am not saying that this isn't a solid study in and of itself, but it is a perfect example of a single finding being totally sensationalized; it starts with Yahoo news article that inaccurately presents the findings, and continues with a DT writer who clearly just rehashed said article without bothering to take a look at the primary data.

Let me say this again. I just scoured the original paper (the WHOLE paper, and not just the abstract), and there is no mention of DNA-based, or for that matter, any biological assays- this is an analytical chemistry paper published by analytical chemists in a chemistry journal. This is not a knock against chemists by any means, but let's just say that there is a very wide gap between research in analytical chemistry, in vitro biology, and clinical biology.

If you believe the reporters, somehow, this study made a magical leap of logic from pure analytical chemistry to being instantly applicable to everyone's daily lives.

RE: Study taken way out of context
By Ammohunt on 1/17/2011 2:44:55 PM , Rating: 3
I agree; and how significant is the damage of cigarette smoke as compared to say spray paint or pesticides?

By The Raven on 1/17/2011 10:47:23 AM , Rating: 2
I hate smoke and all but that picture is still cute (not the Bette Davis one).

Unfortunately this is what smoking does to you over time...
20 years later...
30 years later...
and beyond...

RE: Cute
By Pirks on 1/17/2011 1:34:15 PM , Rating: 2
and still... not a sign of a dreaded lung cancer!

amazing! (C) S. Jobs

RE: Cute
By ShaolinSoccer on 1/19/2011 1:39:23 PM , Rating: 2
last link didn't work

Eating Kills!
By nstott on 1/17/11, Rating: 0
RE: Eating Kills!
By SPOOFE on 1/17/2011 3:13:57 PM , Rating: 3
most of the anti-tobacco crowd are for legalizing marijuana, which is worse than tobacco when smoked.

First off: Cigarettes are legal. So, like, umm... there's that.

Further, while marijuana is considered "more carcinogenic" per unit, compared to tobacco, the data just isn't there that indicates that smoking marijuana (exclusively) mimics tobacco's effects on the body.

I'm not personally aware of any study that A: discriminates between pot-only smokers and those that smoke pot AND cigarettes and B: finds a correlation between that smoking and the onset of lung cancer. If you know of one, however, post it up! I'm just one guy and I don't read everything.

RE: Eating Kills!
By Smilin on 1/18/2011 12:13:31 PM , Rating: 3
most of the anti-tobacco crowd are for legalizing marijuana, which is worse than tobacco when smoked

Prove it.

"Common sense" or "common knowledge" doesn't count as a scientific study. Find a study which uses non-cigarrette smokers in the control and experimental groups.

Cannabis has been shown to have more tar per unit of unsmoked weight but the amount of carcinogens in those tars or more importantly the overall result hasn't been shown. Furthermore cannabis smokers in general will smoke a much smaller amount than tobbacco users. You won't find a 40 joint (two pack) a day smoker.

Plus all those things you hear about it being stronger these days? In the few cases where this may be true it simply results in less being smoked for the same effect. In other words...stronger weed is safer.

The sad truth of smokers
By MartyLK on 1/17/11, Rating: -1
RE: The sad truth of smokers
By VitalyTheUnknown on 1/17/2011 11:58:34 AM , Rating: 5
I am non-smoker and I'm very sure that totalitarian assholes like you are the greatest threat to me personally, to all communities and society as a whole.

RE: The sad truth of smokers
By priusone on 1/17/2011 12:05:22 PM , Rating: 3
I read the guys comment a few times looking for the slightest hint of sarcasm. I'm glad MLK posted this, especially today. It is a great reminder of the mentality we must face everyday.

RE: The sad truth of smokers
By YashBudini on 1/17/11, Rating: 0
RE: The sad truth of smokers
By YashBudini on 1/17/11, Rating: 0
RE: The sad truth of smokers
By priusone on 1/17/2011 12:02:13 PM , Rating: 2
And while passing those laws to save us from ourselves, let's make a law requiring scales in front of fast food joints that are tied to door locks, or just outright ban minivans from using the drivethrough (picturing minivan leaning on the driver side).

RE: The sad truth of smokers
By Looey on 1/17/2011 8:28:10 PM , Rating: 2
Good point. I see fat people eating cheeseburgers and fries for a snack instead of a meal. They usually have an Obama sicker on their back window.

While we're trampling all over everyone's rights, let's ban all smart phone users from driving. I have seen some violent wrecks where the drivers went straight through red lights without ever hitting the brakes and hit green light cars broadside while they were using their smartphones. I run a lot and have almost been hit by people going through intersections or making turns with their heads up their butt and a phone in their lap or held in their ear. Do the anti-smoking zealots agree with me? I doubt it.

I believe if a bar wants to allow smoking inside and they hang a sign outside that says this is a smoking establishment it's OK with me. I don't smoke and I don't have to go in while people who want to can. I don't like people telling me how to live so I don't want to tell others how to live. If you're a crusader who wants to pass laws taking away freedoms you should look at your own sorry lives. It's none of your business how I conduct my life. You may think it's your business, it's not. Smokers who drive up health care costs are just one of many habits that aren't healthy. I see plenty of other health care costs caused by over eating, bad driver habits, alcohols abuse, lack of exercise, drug abuse, spouse abuse and depression caused by high unemployment to name a few. Until I'm able to regulate you I want you to leave me alone and stay out of my life. This means you! :)

RE: The sad truth of smokers
By lyeoh on 1/18/2011 9:01:58 AM , Rating: 2
In some countries the _extra_ tobacco taxes smokers pay are higher than the healthcare costs of smoking related diseases. In the UK it's about 10 billion taxes vs 5 billion costs.

So if a bar/restaurant wants to allow smoking, instead of banning it, just tax them more (or add a "smoking allowed" license fee). Why eliminate choice and lose another drug revenue opportunity? ;)

I'm a nonsmoker and I find it strange that many countries worry about "aging populations" and at the same time ban smoking in so many places. Smokers pay extra taxes, are about as productive, and many die soon after their productivity tapers off.

Nonsmokers die eventually too - and likely cost more - live longer, and die from something about as expensive to treat.

FWIW there are tons of smokers in Japan, I'm puzzled why they aren't dropping dead faster. Maybe they smoke better stuff.

RE: The sad truth of smokers
By coolkev99 on 1/17/2011 12:10:51 PM , Rating: 5
This post caused me mental distress. I think we need to ban you from posting online ever again.

RE: The sad truth of smokers
By mars2k on 1/17/2011 12:27:22 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah,It's true, how many times have I had to walk through a crowd of drug addicts, yes drug addicts, huffing and puffing outside a building right in front of the entrance. The air is foul and the smell clings to my clothes. Why should I have to do that just because you are addicted to nicotene?
Addicts deny they have a problem or that there is a problem or that if there is a problem it’s theirs and not bothering any body but themselves. Addicts have a whole host of ways to minalize and deflect criticism. I’ve seen chainsmoking grandmothers with their grandkids in tow, oblivious to the harm they are doing. It’s child abuse really.
Addicts don’t just deny. They squawk to hi heaven when some interferes with their fix or implies they should do something it
It’s your addiction that’s ok but when it crosses over into my world I have a right to complain. Get out of my air with that poisonous crap. You’re a drug addict get some help, stop rationalizing, you don’t live in a vacumn surely some else suffers because of your addiction.

RE: The sad truth of smokers
By omnicronx on 1/17/2011 12:29:05 PM , Rating: 4
Get off your high horse.

Rarely are you forced to be in a position where ANYONE is forcing you to smoke, or expose you to true second hand smoke.

Sitting outside while someone is smoking a cigarete near you does not fall into that category.

The very city air you are constantly breathing is probably filled with far more carcinogens and chemicals than the little bit of second hand smoke you subjected too.

<sarcasm>So please stop driving. As a cyclist I find people like yourself very selfish for subjecting me to all these chemicals that your car spews out daily and I just won't stand for it </sarcasm>

RE: The sad truth of smokers
By MartyLK on 1/17/11, Rating: 0
RE: The sad truth of smokers
By SPOOFE on 1/17/2011 3:18:32 PM , Rating: 2
You're not talking about the problem of second-hand smoke, you're talking about the problem of self-centered jerks. And there's about an equal percentage of self-centered jerks in both the smoking and the non-smoking population. You are an excellent example of the latter.

The truth is that most cigarette smokers are courteous people that recognize their habit is uncomfortable to many others and they take steps to mitigate that.

RE: The sad truth of smokers
By MartyLK on 1/17/2011 3:41:20 PM , Rating: 1
While that may be true of some people, the majority, in my experience, not just at my workplace, but wherever I go, are too self absorbed to care about how their dangerous habit affects others. Reasoning like yours is just a symptom to continue the anti-social behavior. The smokers at my work were, for the most part, decent people who ordinarily would help you in any other way. Cigarette smoking binds them up in their mind so much so that it causes them to ignore all rationality about their selfish habit.

There isn't much you would be able to say to me that I haven't already heard in defense of smoking habits. But you are welcome to voice your nicotine-controlled views.

RE: The sad truth of smokers
By Lerianis on 1/18/2011 7:23:28 AM , Rating: 1
Sorry, MartyLK, but I have to agree with the previous poster here. You are self-centered jerk who thinks that someone smoking halfway across the room 'affects' them in some manner.

IT DOES NOT! You are more likely to get an 'effect' from sitting beside a dirty, dusty fan blowing dust particles and all other shit at you than from second-hand smoke.

All of these 'studies' have a logic fail and science fail in them. They start out with the assumption that second-hand smoke has an effect. Therefore, they don't look for ANYTHING that would say that it DOESN'T HAVE AN EFFECT !

Simply put.... these studies are toilet paper fodder.

RE: The sad truth of smokers
By RamarC on 1/17/2011 9:03:15 PM , Rating: 2
cigar smokers are the some of the nicest folks you'll ever meet. seriously! and they're very courteous and respectful of other folks in the vicinity.

but anti-smokers near a cigar... immediately with the whining/complaining/bitching/snide comments!

RE: The sad truth of smokers
By a1trips on 1/18/2011 11:21:46 AM , Rating: 1
i rated one comment up. I am gonna hammer this one. High much?
launch crusades againts air pollution, against women in third world countries inhaling chimney smoke to cook fires, but this jeez. You need a reality check.
Why is there a disconnect between the rational sounding first comment and this BS? your chemicals are being abused, Sir

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