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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 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.

"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

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