‘A stark warning:’ Smoking causes genetic damage within minutes after inhaling

WASHINGTON, Jan. 15, 2011 — In research described as “a stark warning” to those tempted to start smoking, scientists are reporting that cigarette smoke begins to cause genetic damage within minutes — not years — after inhalation into the lungs.

Their report, the first human study to detail the way certain substances in tobacco cause DNA damage linked to cancer, appears in Chemical Research in Toxicology, one of 38 peer-reviewed scientific journals published by the American Chemical Society.

Stephen S. Hecht, Ph.D., and colleagues point out in the report that lung cancer claims a global toll of 3,000 lives each day, largely as a result of cigarette smoking. Smoking also is linked to at least 18 other types of cancer. Evidence indicates that harmful substances in tobacco smoke termed polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, are one of the culprits in causing lung cancer. Until now, however, scientists had not detailed the specific way in which the PAHs in cigarette smoke cause DNA damage in humans.

The scientists added a labeled PAH, phenanthrene, to cigarettes and tracked its fate in 12 volunteers who smoked the cigarettes. They found that phenanthrene quickly forms a toxic substance in the blood known to trash DNA, causing mutations that can cause cancer. The smokers developed maximum levels of the substance in a time frame that surprised even the researchers: Just 15-30 minutes after the volunteers finished smoking. Researchers said the effect is so fast that it’s equivalent to injecting the substance directly into the bloodstream.

“This study is unique,” writes Hecht, an internationally recognized expert on cancer-causing substances found in cigarette smoke and smokeless tobacco. “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. The results reported here should serve as a stark warning to those who are considering starting to smoke cigarettes,” the article notes.

The authors acknowledged funding from the National Cancer Institute.

The American Chemical Society is a non-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 161,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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2 thoughts on “‘A stark warning:’ Smoking causes genetic damage within minutes after inhaling”

  1. Have you ever been to a cookout or a campfire or just been alive and breathed?

    If you answered yes then your not alone all of us breathe in these PAH’S everyday of our lives just from the air itself!

    Basically these supposed researchers didnt bother to do a comparison group of
    campers or 4th of july family cookout victims of PAH’s.

    Remeber the grilled food scare of burned food causing cancer…pah’s again same thing diferent route…..

    But they would have found the same genetic changes in these same folks.

    Super doped levels of non-toxic phenanthrene……the stuff shows up in 15-30 minutes when tested……thats just proof positive of an immune system working properly!!!


    HUMAN TOXICITY………PAH’s leave the body within days in urined and feces

    exposure from everywhere………theres no way they could have stopped exposure from other sources……they gave the folks super doses to try and show genetic changes which they already knew to happen at super high doses………they chose this phenanthrene because it doesnt harm anyone………what they got was what they already knew was going to happen as its been know for decades……….remember dose makes the poison and they spun this one using mega doses to show genetic changes that they knew would happen at such high doses already……..

    PAH’s are in such low concentrations they can hardly detect them .They got like 144 ng benzo[a]pyrene per cigarette converted according to potency equivalency factors (PEFs).

    Fron littlewood and fennels toxic study for osha pels………..

    All this is in a small sealed room 9×20 and must occur in ONE HOUR.
    For Benzo[a]pyrene, 222,000 cigarettes.

    They knew the outcome before they did the study…….They used common science to spin another headline is all thats happened…….

    They said they gave them 10ug a day………..

    1 nanogram equals a billionth of a gram

  2. For the related PAH, benzo[a]pyrene, which is one of the most common polycyclic hydrocarbons produced by combustion, “[T]he food chain is the dominant pathway of human exposure, accounting for about 97% of the total daily intake of BaP. Inhalation and consumption of contaminated water are only minor pathways of human exposure [2% from air, and 1% from water]. The long-term average daily intake of BaP by the general population is estimated to be 2.2 micrograms (ug) per day. Cigarette smoking and indoor activities do not substantially increase human exposure to BaP relative to background levels of BaP present in the environment.” And, “[A]verage smokers (i.e., individuals who smoke 20 cigarettes a day) are taking in an additional 780 ng of BaP daily, which means that smokers get an additional 16% BaP from smoking” [based on pre-1979 cigarettes, which contained about twice the quantity of BaP as newer low-tar cigarettes]. Also, the exposure from cooked beef (0.2 -24.1 ug/kg) is less than the exposure from leafy vegetables (7.0 – 48 ug/kg). And, this research was sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (Benzo-a-pyrene: Environmental partitioning and human exposure. H.A. Hattemer-Frey, C.C. Travis. Toxicology and Industrial Health 1991;7(3):141-157.)


    The anti-smokers are guilty of flagrant scientific fraud for ignoring more than 50 studies, which show that human papillomaviruses cause at least a quarter of non-small cell lung cancers. Smokers and passive smokers are more likely to have been exposed to this virus, for socioeconomic reasons. And the anti-smokers’ studies are all based on nothing but lifestyle questionnaires, so they’re cynically DESIGNED to blame tobacco for all those extra lung cancers that are really caused by HPV. And those criminals commit the same type of fraud with every disease they blame on tobacco.


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