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Genetic Damage Due to Smoking Within Minutes of Inhalation

According to a study published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, published by the American Chemical Society, The adverse effects of smoking starts the minute you take the first puff. The researcher Stephen S. Hecht and his colleagues found out that PAHs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a substance that causes lung cancer, are responsible for damaging the DNA in humans.

The scientists studied the effect on 12 volunteers who smoked cigarettes. Phenanthrene, one of PAHs, instantly forms a toxic matter in the blood which damages the DNA. This might lead to mutations which can cause cancer. What was startling about the study is the time taken for the damage to manifest. The maximum level of the DNA damaging substance was develeoped in between 15 minutes and 30 minutes. This is so fast that the researchers felt it was as if the toxic matter is being directly injected into the blood stream.

The study is unique as for the first time the metabolism of the PAH by inhaling the cigerette smoke was investigated. Other sources like diet or pollution did not interfere with the study. The research was funded by the National Cancer Institute.

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