Monday August 26, 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

Lung Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

With a CT scan, a doctor can tell whether there are small lesions present in your lungs, which wasn’t seen on an X-ray

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lung cancer
Lung cancer diagnosis and treatment in Singapore and other nations offer treatment through chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and drug therapy. Wikimedia Commons

If you’re among the people with a high risk of getting lung cancer, you may opt for annual lung cancer screenings, involving the use of low-dose CT scans. Most lung cancer screenings are offered to people of 55 years and above with a long smoking history. It doesn’t matter if you’re healthy; as long as you’re a smoker, you may need screening. You can consult with your doctor concerning your lung cancer risk and decide whether you need testing. The following involves screening procedures and treatment.

Lung cancer diagnosis test

If you feel your lifestyle is exposing you to the risk of lung cancer, then your health care provider will suggest numerous tests for detecting cancerous cells. Like other countries, Lung cancer diagnosis and treatment in Singapore offers the following tests:

  • Imaging tests – In this test, the image of your lungs X-ray can disclose unusual masses or nodules. With a CT scan, a doctor can tell whether there are small lesions present in your lungs, which wasn’t seen on an X-ray.
  • Phlegm cytology – Whether you’re a smoker or not, you can get a cough that produces sputum. The use of a microscope to view the sputum could also show the existence of lung cancer cells.
  • A tissue sample (biopsy) – A biopsy is a procedure that involves taking some samples of the abnormal cells. For your doctor to perform a biopsy, he will use bronchoscopy, a process to examine the abnormalities in your lung. In bronchoscopy, your doctor will also pass a lighted tube down your throat through your lungs to have a clearer picture.
lung cancer
Main Cause for lung cancer. Pixabay

Another form of biopsy is mediastinoscopy involving an incision on your neck’s base with surgical tools placed behind your breastbone. The surgical instruments will extract samples of tissue from your lymph nodes.

In a biopsy, your doctor will use X-ray and CT images to direct the needle through the wall of your chest towards the lung tissues. This aims to collect suspicious cells from the lung tissue. Your doctor will also take biopsy samples from your lymph nodes or other areas like the liver in case cancer has spread.

To know the type of lung cancer you may be suffering from, cancer cell analysis done in a lab will disclose it. With detailed results from testing, your doctor will tell your exact cell characteristics to conclude your prognosis and treatment guide.

Lung cancer treatment

Decide with your doctor on the best treatment plan for your cancer based on factors like your general health, cancer type, and its stage through the below procedures.

lung cancer
With a CT scan, a doctor can tell whether there are small lesions present in your lungs, which wasn’t seen on an X-ray. Pixabay
  • Radiotherapy treatment – This treatment stops cancer cells occurring in one place from multiplying.
  • Chemotherapy – Here, the drugs to shrink or destroy cancer cells involves chemotherapy medications targeting multiplying cancer cells.
  • Surgery – According to where cancer may have spread, your doctor will operate on you to remove the cancerous lung tissue and surrounding area tissue. Further treatment might involve the removal of a large lung segment through the lobectomy procedure.

ALSO READ: Why You May Need an Air Purifier for Your Home

Conclusion

Although lung cancer is a severe disease affecting breathing ability, early diagnostic screening for those at risk will help them get first treatment. Mostly, you will find that Lung cancer diagnosis and treatment in Singapore and other nations offer treatment through chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and drug therapy.