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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.

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