Sunday January 20, 2019

Smoking a Pack of Cigarettes each Day Causes 150 Mutations in Every Lung Cell, say Scientists

Smoking kills six million people a year worldwide and, if current trends continue, the World Health Organization predicts more than 1 billion tobacco-related deaths this century

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FILE - New findings show that smoking causes devastating genetic damage, or mutations, in the cells of various organs in the body. VOA

Scientists have found that smoking a pack a day of cigarettes can cause 150 damaging changes to a smoker’s lung cells each year.

The findings come from a study of the devastating genetic damage, or mutations, caused by smoking in various organs in the body.

Published Thursday in the journal Science, the researchers said the findings show a direct link between the number of cigarettes smoked in a lifetime and the number of mutations in the DNA of cancerous tumours.

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The highest mutation rates were seen in lung cancers, but tumors in other parts of the body — including the bladder, liver and throat — also had smoking-associated mutations, they said. This explains why smoking also causes many other types of cancer beside lung cancer.

Smoking kills six million people a year worldwide and, if current trends continue, the World Health Organization predicts more than 1 billion tobacco-related deaths this century.

Cancer is caused by mutations in the DNA of a cell. Smoking has been linked with at least 17 types of cancer, but until now scientists were not clear on the mechanisms behind many of them.

Ludmil Alexandrov of Los Alamos National Laboratory in the United States, one of those who carried out the research, explained that in particular, it had until now been difficult to explain how smoking increases the risk of cancer in parts of the body that don’t come into direct contact with smoke.

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“Before now, we had a large body of epidemiological evidence linking smoking with cancer, but now we can actually observe and quantify the molecular changes in the DNA,” he said.

This study analyzed over 5,000 tumors, comparing cancers from smokers with those from people who had never smoked.

It found certain molecular fingerprints of DNA damage — called mutational signatures — in the smokers’ DNA, and the scientists counted how many of these were in different tumors.

In lung cells, they found that on average, smoking a pack of cigarettes a day led to 150 mutations in each cell every year.

Each mutation is a potential start point for a “cascade of genetic damage” that can eventually lead to cancer, they said.

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The results also showed that smoking a pack of cigarettes a day led to an average 97 mutations in each cell in the larynx, 39 mutations for the pharynx, 23 for the mouth, 18 for the bladder, and six mutations in every cell of the liver each year.

Mike Stratton, who co-led the work at Britain’s Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said it was a bit like digging into the archaeology of each tumor.

“The genome of every cancer provides a kind of archaeological record, written in the DNA code itself, of the exposures that caused the mutations,” he said. “Looking in the DNA of cancers can provide provocative new clues to how [they] develop and thus, potentially, how they can be prevented.” (VOA)

  • Ruchika Kumari

    Smoking is injuries for health….everyone knows….still smokers are not quitting it

  • Shivani Vohra

    Smoking is really injurious to health.

Next Story

Drug Use Among Teens Down in The U.S. But Vaping Still On The Rise

The vaping explosion is a big worry, however. Health officials say nicotine is harmful to developing brains.

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In this April 11, 2018, photo, an unidentified 15-year-old high school student uses a vaping device near the school's campus in Cambridge, Mass. Health and education officials across the country are raising alarms over wide underage use of e-cigarettes and other vaping products. The devices heat liquid into an inhalable vapor that's sold in sugary flavors like mango and mint — and often with the addictive drug nicotine. VOA

Twice as many high school students used nicotine-tinged electronic cigarettes this year compared with last year, an unprecedented jump in a large annual survey of teen smoking, drinking and drug use.

It was the largest single-year increase in the survey’s 44-year history, far surpassing a mid-1970s surge in marijuana smoking.

The findings, released Monday, echo those of a government survey earlier this year. That survey also found a dramatic rise in vaping among children and prompted federal regulators to press for measures that make it harder for kids to get them.

Experts attribute the jump to newer versions of e-cigarettes, like those by Juul Labs Inc. that resemble computer flash drives and can be used discreetly.

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Customers puff on e-cigarettes at the Henley Vaporium in New York City. VOA

Trina Hale, a junior at South Charleston High School in West Virginia, said vaping — specifically Juul — exploded at her school this year.

“They can put it in their sleeve or their pocket. They can do it wherever, whenever. They can do it in class if they’re sneaky about it,” she said.

Olivia Turman, a freshman at Cabell Midland High School in Ona, West Virginia, said she too has seen kids “hit their vape in class.”

The federally funded survey released Monday is conducted by University of Michigan researchers and has been operating since 1975. This year’s findings are based on responses from about 45,000 students in grades 8, 10 and 12 in schools across the country. It found 1 in 5 high school seniors reported having vaped nicotine in the previous month.

After vaping and alcohol, the most common thing teens use is marijuana, the survey found. About 1 in 4 students said they’d used marijuana at least once in the past year. It was more common in older kids — about 1 in 17 high school seniors said they use marijuana every day.

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Nicotine vaping on rise among US teenagers: Survey. Pixabay

Overall, marijuana smoking is about the same level as it was the past few years. Vaping of marijuana rose, however.

More teens, however, are saying no to lots of other substances. Usage of alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, heroin and opioid pills all declined.

Experts say it’s not clear what’s behind those trends, especially since the nation is in the midst of the deadliest drug overdose epidemic ever.

“What is it that we’re doing right with teenagers that we’re not doing with adults?” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a federal agency that funds the Michigan study.

One leading theory is that kids today are staying home and communicating on smartphones rather than hanging out and smoking, drinking or trying drugs.

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In this Feb. 20, 2014 file photo, a customer exhales vapor from an e-cigarette at a store in New York. A growing number of e-cigarette and vaporizer sellers have started offering college scholarships as a way to get their brands listed on university websites. VOA

“Drug experimentation is a group activity,” Volkow said.

What about vaping? “Vaping mostly is an individual activity,” said David Jernigan, a Boston University researcher who tracks alcohol use.

The vaping explosion is a big worry, however. Health officials say nicotine is harmful to developing brains. Some researchers also believe vaping will make kids more likely to take up cigarettes, and perhaps later try other drugs.

Also Read: New Survey Shows Rise of Nicotine Vaping Among US Teenagers

So far that hasn’t happened, surveys show. But the Juul phenomenon is recent, noted Richard Miech, who oversees the Michigan survey.

If vaping does lead to cigarette use among teens, that may start to show up in the survey as early as next year, he added. (VOA)