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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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The sad truth of smokers
By MartyLK on 1/17/2011 11:21:58 AM , Rating: -1
One sad truth of cigarette smokers is that they put their habit above the health of others. Their desperation for nicotine causes them to harm the health of those around them. They will even launch sadistic crusades against anyone who raises objection to their cigarette smoking in their vicinity.

I suppose most smokers wouldn't ordinarily be so selfish. But their desperation to continue to have the freedom of smoking causes them to stuff down out of consciousness any and all concerns for other's well being. They kind of build a mental barricade from all reasoning, and even the approach of reasoning, that would cause them to rationalize their selfish smoking behavior.

I certainly hope more and more much tougher laws will be enacted to deal with cigarette smoking. Smokers aren't in control of themselves and need to be controlled. They don't have the rational ability to control themselves in a way that looks out for the well being of others around them who can be damaged by their smoke.

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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