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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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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.

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