We know smoking cigarettes for years can cause lung cancer, heart disease and a number of other cancers. However, researchers are finding that cigarette smoke can actually damage the body within minutes.
This is contrary to what people believed. Everyone knows that smoking causes lung cancer 30 years down the road, but now, scientists are finding is that the process begins almost immediately.
There are these compounds that have been associated with cancer called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). The compounds are known to contribute to the onset of lung cancer.
The researchers added PAH to cigarettes to see how the bodies of 12 volunteer smokers reacted. It only took 30 minutes to turn the chemical into one that damages DNA.
Professor Stephen Hecht at the University of Minnesota wrote:
This study is unique, 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 such as air pollution or the diet.
Essentially, the researchers are finding that inhaling cigarette smoke enters the blood stream so fast that it's like injecting it directly.
The study was published in Chemical Research in Toxicology.
Now, this study was small. It will be interesting to see more studies on PAH, considering this was the first to show how compounds in tobacco can damage DNA.
"The results reported here should serve as a stark warning to those who are considering starting to smoke cigarettes," Hecht wrote.
And of course...it's never to late to quit smoking, one expert said.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com