by Alex A. Kecskes
If you're thinking about taking up smoking, you should know that cigarette smoke begins to cause genetic damage to your body within minutes after finishing even that first cigarette. This is contrary to the popular belief that smoking takes years to damage your system. Healthcare professionals have long insisted that people stop smoking (or never take up the habit).
Lung cancer snuffs out 3,000 lives every day. Most lives are lost due to cigarette smoking. Medical professionals generally agree that smoking also contributes to many other types of cancer. The culprit is the harmful substance in tobacco smoke known as a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, or PAH.
When scientists added a labeled PAH to cigarettes and tracked its effect in 12 volunteer smokers, the PAH quickly formed a toxic substance in the blood known to trash DNA. This introduced mutations that can cause cancer. What was most surprising was how fast smokers developed high levels of trash DNA--just 15-30 minutes after they finished smoking. Researchers noted that the effect was like injecting the substance directly into the bloodstream.
The unique study appearing in Chemical Research in Toxicology was the first time researchers investigated the human metabolism of a PAH specifically delivered by inhalation in cigarette smoke. And without interference by other exposure sources like air pollution or diet. Researchers hope that these results serve as an urgent warning to those who are considering "taking up the habit."
For an additional perspective, check out this video:
Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients.