Tobacco smoke forms cancer causing trash DNA within minutes
Smoking comes with a new warning that it can harm genes within minutes, not years.
Findings from researchers are the first to show smoking tobacco harms DNA from chemicals known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. In a first human study, researchers tracked the fate of one of the toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke most likely to cause cancer, after volunteers finished smoking a cigarette, discovering trash DNA is forms within minutes.
When scientists added a labeled PAH called ,phenanthrene to cigarettes, and study subjects smoked the tobacco, the researchers observed the behavior of the toxic chemical in 12 volunteers. The discovered that phenanthrene turned into cancer causing trash DNA within 15 to 30 minutes after the study participants finished smoking.
The study, published in Chemical Research in Toxicology and conducted by Stephen S. Hecht, Ph.D., and colleagues, details how PAH, one of the carcinogens in tobacco, takes minutes, not years to cause changes in DNA that can lead to lung, throat, esophageal, mouth, and other types of cancer.
The authors concluded, "Because PAH diol epoxides are mutagenic and carcinogenic, the results clearly demonstrate immediate negative health consequences of smoking, which should serve as a major warning to anyone contemplating initiating tobacco use."
Hecht points out the study is unique because it shows that tobacco smoke harms genes, regardless of other factors like diet and exposure to air pollution. He says, “It is the first to investigate human metabolism of a PAH specifically delivered by inhalation in cigarette smoke, without interference by other sources of exposure…”
The report is the first human study showing how quickly cigarette smoking damages genes, causing trash DNA that can cause cancer. The researchers found damage from tobacco smoke happens so fast, it’s like injecting it into the bloodstream.
American Chemical Society
Chemical Research in Toxicology: DOI: 10.1021/tx100345x