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Contrary to Popular Belief, Cigarettes Damage the Body in Minutes, Not Years.
Tobacco grown and harvested is dried and cut, then processed into various products including dip, snuff, and cigarettes. Cigarettes are paper-rolled and available in filtered and non-filtered versions. The greatest toxicity of cigarettes stems from the smoke inhaled after lighting the non-filter end of the product. The chemicals contained in the smoke have been counted for years as technology has advanced and have recently been quoted as stretching above 5,000 with over 40 of those chemicals known to be cancer-causing. Previously noted, it would take years before damage to the body would occur by smoking. However, a recent study published in Cancer Research in Toxicology shows that chemicals which cause cancer form rapidly after smoking.
The long term effect of smoking including heart disease, lung disease, stroke, and a long list of cancers, among others, is well known. The researchers looked at the level of chemicals linked with cancer in a small number of people, twelve in the study in total, after smoking. The study states that the damaging effect of smoking occurs within 15-30 minutes as opposed to years as previously noted by many studies, including those conducted by tobacco companies.
This study is the first of its kind to look specifically at how the human body metabolizes a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) delivered specifically by inhalation in cigarette smoke without interference by other factors including surrounding air pollution or diet, explains Professor Stephen Hecht from the University of Minnesota. “The results here should serve as a stark warning to those who are considering starting to smoke cigarettes.”
Funding for the study was provided by the US National Cancer Institute, hoping to find new information that could be used to help further understand the way the human body reacts to the toxins contained in smoke, including carcinogens. The study provided that exact information, but provided chilling new facts in the process.
Every subject in the study showed metabolism changes within thirty minutes of smoking, not ten, twenty, or thirty years down the road. The study reiterates that people should never smoke a single cigarette, but if they do (or have in the past) it is necessary to quit smoking now to avoid further damage to the body and begin reducing the risk of cancer developing in the body.
Chem. Res. Toxicol., 2011, 24 (2), pp 246–252