Smoke for 15 Minutes and Pay Price

Smoking can cause genetic damage in a short time: Study :-
New research suggests that smoking may cause genetic damage within minutes of the smoke reaching the lungs — not after months or years of puffing away as some smokers might like to believe.

A substance that belongs to a class of compounds found in cigarette smoke and can damage genetic material is found in the blood within 15 to 30 minutes of smoking, a study by US medical researchers has shown.

This is the first study to explore how a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) delivered by cigarette smoke inhalation is processed by the human body and how its levels in blood change minutes to hours after cigarette puffs, the scientists said.

“The results… should serve as a stark warning to those who are considering starting to smoke cigarettes,” the researchers at the University of Minnesota cautioned in their study, published today in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.

The formation of potentially dangerous compounds associated with smoking “occurs immediately and is not a theoretical long-term effect”, they wrote.

Scientists have known for years about the immediate physiological effects of smoking on the brain, respiratory system and cardiovascular system, but the potential for a similar rapid effect on genes had not been demonstrated until now.

“Hopefully, this will demolish a myth among beginners that it’s okay to do it for some time and quit before genetic damage,” said Monika Arora, head of tobacco control at the Public Health Foundation of India, New Delhi, who was not associated with the study.

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The study also corroborates findings from previous studies that different people respond differently to compounds found in cigarette smoke. Some smokers rapidly clear toxins, while others carry high levels in their blood for longer periods of time.

In the study, Stephen Hecht and his colleagues asked a group of volunteers to smoke cigarettes that were intentionally laced with a compound that allowed a test PAH to be tracked in the bloodstream after the cigarettes were smoked.

The researchers recorded the number of puffs, the puff duration and puff volume and measured levels of the test PAH 30 minutes before the first puff, and then at 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes, 120 minutes, 150 minutes and up to 1,440 minutes after the completion of a cigarette.

The test PAH produced a compound in blood that can interact with genetic material, or DNA, triggering mutations. The blood levels were maximum within 15 to 30 minutes after the volunteers had finished smoking a cigarette and steadily decreased afterward.

The scientists said the rise-and-fall pattern of the PAH was similar to what would be produced by direct intravenous injection of the substance. This is the “first direct evidence” for the potential for “immediate genetic damage” in a cigarette smoker, Hecht and his co-authors wrote in their paper.

Cancer researchers say that peak values of cancer-causing compounds from tobacco are influenced by individual genetic factors. One volunteer in the US study had a peak value 18 times lower than the volunteer who had the highest level 15 minutes after smoking.

“Genes can independently determine how fast a toxic compound is cleared from the body and how efficiently errors in DNA are repaired,” said Manor Mahimkar, a scientist investigating genetic susceptibility to oral cancer at the Cancer Research Institute, Tata Memorial Centre, Navi Mumbai. “It’s a complex interplay of these genes that determines how fast or slowly the health effects of tobacco show up.”

: The Telegraph ( Kolkata India)

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