Thursday October 18, 2018

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
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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)

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  • 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

Compound Found in Grape Skin Can Protect Against Lung Cancer: Research

The resveratrol concentration obtained in the lungs after nasal administration of the formulation was 22 times higher than when taken orally

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grapes, improvement of teeth
Consumption of grapes can lead to having healthier teeth. Pixabay

Researchers have found that a molecule — resveratrol — found in grape skin, seeds and red wine can protect against lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the deadliest form of the disease in the world and 80 per cent of deaths are related to smoking. In addition to tobacco control, effective chemo-prevention strategies are therefore needed.

In experiments in mice, the researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) prevented lung cancer induced by a carcinogen found in cigarette smoke by using resveratrol.

Lung cancer
This formulation is applicable to humans, the researchers noted.

“We observed a 45 per cent decrease in tumour load per mouse in the treated mice. They developed fewer tumours and of smaller size than untreated mice,” said Muriel Cuendet, associate professor at the varsity.

The team conducted their 26-week study on four groups of mice. The first one — the control — received neither carcinogen nor resveratrol treatment. The second received only the carcinogen. The third received both the carcinogen and the treatment, whereas the fourth received only the treatment.

When comparing the two groups that were not exposed to carcinogen, 63 per cent of the mice treated did not develop cancer, compared to only 12.5 per cent of the untreated mice.

“Resveratrol could, therefore, play a preventive role against lung cancer,” Cuendet added.

This formulation is applicable to humans, the researchers noted.

Lung cancer
Tobacco use is one of the main risk factors for a number of chronic diseases, including cancer, lung diseases and cardiovascular diseases, Pixabay

However, when ingested, resveratrol did not prevent lung cancer as it is metabolised and eliminated within minutes. It does not have time to reach the lungs.

Also Read: Wine Tied to Healthier Arteries for Some Diabetics

Conversely, when the molecule was administered through the nasal route, it as found to be much effective and allows the compound to reach the lungs.

The resveratrol concentration obtained in the lungs after nasal administration of the formulation was 22 times higher than when taken orally, the researchers said. (IANS)