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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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Eating Kills!
By nstott on 1/17/2011 12:47:31 PM , Rating: 0
Eating also creates free radicals that can cause cancer. Our body is constantly fighting off cancer from various sources. While smoking tobacco is worse than eating food for obvious reasons, it's interesting that most of the anti-tobacco crowd are for legalizing marijuana, which is worse than tobacco when smoked. While regulating it like alcohol seems reasonable, I personally wouldn't touch alcohol, tobacco, or Mary Jane; but I'm still working on my eating habbits...

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.

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