Smoking's damage is surprisingly rapid

by Anonymous on Jan. 17th, 2011

Smoking's damage is high-speedCourtesy AMagillDespite decades of warnings people still continue smoking cigarettes. Yes, they're all aware of the long-term effects of smoking such as heart disease and cancer, but now a new study out of the University of Minnesota shows that within just a few minutes of inhaling a cigarette's toxic smoke, cancer causing chemicals begin to form.
Researchers at the U of M studied a group of patients, and monitored the level of chemicals known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) that were derived from their inhaling cigarette smoke.The results showed that the subjects' bodies changed the PAHs into DNA-damaging chemicals almost immediately:

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. These results are significant because PAH diol epoxides react readily with DNA, induce mutations, and are considered to be ultimate carcinogens of multiple PAH in cigarette smoke.

Martin Dockrell, director of policy and research at ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), an anti-smoking organization, said, "The chilling thing about this research is that it shows just how early the very first stages of that process begin - not in 30 years but within 30 minutes of a single cigarette for every subject in the study."
Dockrell added that it's never too late to quit and begin reducing smoking's harmful effects.
The study was funded by the American Cancer Society and appears in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.
BBC website

">Fox News story

American Cancer Society
ASH (Action on Smoking and Health)


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Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:

OK, I buy this. But I wonder: everyone quoted always says, "It's never to late to quit and reduce the damage." How can that be, if the damage is instantaneous? Is it also reversible? What's the mechanism for that? Or is the, "You can still quit" message just to try and stop a new generation of smokers?

posted on Tue, 01/18/2011 - 9:55am
mdr's picture
mdr says:

That's a good question. I think they mean the damage is reversible. I did some quick research on it and came up with this from the UK's National Health Service (NHS) Choices website:

"Half of all long-term smokers die early from smoking-related diseases, including heart disease, lung cancer and chronic bronchitis. Men who quit smoking by 30 add 10 years to their life. People who kick the habit at 60 add three years to their life. In other words, it’s never too late to benefit from stopping. Quitting not only adds years to your life, but it also greatly improves the chance of a disease-free, mobile, happier old age."

The human body is pretty resilient, and will begin to heal itself when the toxins of smoking are eliminated as shown in this Stop Smoking Recovery Timetable.

It's kind of like hitting yourself repeatedly in the face with a shovel. Sure you'll suffer some immediate damage, but you'll feel a heck of a lot better when you stop and your body can begin to repair itself.

posted on Tue, 01/18/2011 - 11:00am
Liliane DeMarco's picture
Liliane DeMarco says:

yes it is never to late to quit smoking
and it is also reversebal

posted on Tue, 11/26/2013 - 9:54am
cecee's picture
cecee says:

really because i smoke and its hard to quit

posted on Tue, 03/18/2014 - 2:25pm
gavinHfsdfsyd6effgguffuyifiy8rrryfdfdydhgfhgyffeather `lynn's picture
gavinHfsdfsyd6effgguffuyifiy8rrryfdfdydhgfhgyffeather `lynn says:

Im quitting, seven days in

posted on Mon, 12/30/2013 - 1:49pm
k.'s picture
k. says:

So, if you keep smoking you keep doing more damage; if you stop smoking you stop your overall lifetime of damage. Simple. And yes, there is some amount of healing that can happen.

posted on Sat, 01/04/2014 - 3:52pm
bryan kennedy's picture

Yeah, I guess I am confused about the point they are trying to make with the study. It seems to be more about a single event of smoking, rather than the long term effects of smoking.

I can't find any information about the quality of the damage caused within minutes.

posted on Tue, 01/18/2011 - 10:30am
anne onimouse's picture
anne onimouse says:

i agree

posted on Fri, 04/15/2011 - 10:19am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

That sort of makes sense, though. If developing cancer is a matter of the odds that damaged DNA will create cancerous cells at some point, those odds will start building up immediately upon exposure to the carcinogen, right? (However small those odds are.) It seems like saying that every moment you're exposed to the sun's uv rays increases your chances of skin cancer. Which... well, duh, but whatevs. (Not to downplay the effects of smoking.)

Is the idea, then, just that the mechanism is faster than we had expected?

posted on Tue, 01/18/2011 - 11:23am
TheVampirePrince's picture
TheVampirePrince says:

My uncle used to smoke about 500 a day but it didn't kill him, the bus did

posted on Thu, 02/10/2011 - 8:02am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I think, perhaps, you're exaggerating for effect. (One of my favorite pastimes.) However, you present a little opportunity for a math exercise. Once you start doing this when reading, you'd be amazed at how many mathematical and unit errors you catch in articles. Anyway...

500 cigarettes a day is 25 packs. At $6/pack or so, that's $150/day, or $54,750/year. Not much left over for bus fare, huh?

And assume it takes 7 minutes to smoke a cigarette. 500 smokes takes 3500 minutes, or just over 58 hours. Even if your uncle smoked 2 at a time, every minute he was awake, he couldn't get to 500 per day.

Oh, and look both ways before you cross the street.

posted on Thu, 02/10/2011 - 10:53am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

A couple weeks ago, when that giant snowstorm was moving across the country, a reporter on the evening news gushed that the storm covered "almost two thousand square miles!"

I thought, "Oh, ok. No... wait a second..."

If the storm covered a region of 40 miles by 50 miles, that would be 2000 square miles. That's not even the size of the Twin Cities area. But that storm stretched from Oklahoma to Chicago, at least.

Maybe the storm was 800 miles long and ... 2.5 miles wide? But it was probably another situation where an important zero or two went missing in the story.

posted on Thu, 02/10/2011 - 11:21am
mdr's picture
mdr says:

Whatever the case you have to admit: it was a smokin' snowstorm!

posted on Thu, 02/10/2011 - 3:00pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Right, sorry—I got kind of sidetracked on the "math problems in articles" thing. This post is about smoking!

posted on Thu, 02/10/2011 - 3:44pm
the kids from the future 's picture
the kids from the future says:

well,smoking is very dangrous and it can be can be caused by life or death and itis something you do notwant to play with now and then. so for all the people who has been smoking i would quit if i was you. and so you could see another day. so thank you and good-bye.

posted on Fri, 08/17/2012 - 2:32pm
SamNoToSmoking's picture
SamNoToSmoking says:

smoking is a very dangerous thing. there is nickoteen in it that will cause an addiction. but you need to think aout if it's bad for you. DON'T SMOKE because you can get a bad cancer!!

posted on Tue, 04/16/2013 - 10:07am
                        Drew's picture
Drew says:

My Grandpa made it through World War 2 and Korea as a jet fighter pilot, at the end he died of lung cancer! He was a big man that everyone loved and respected. At the end in the hospital he was a shadow of his former self. He went from 6-3 210 lbs to 150 lbs. Terrible sight to see for anyone, let alone a young boy!

posted on Thu, 11/14/2013 - 12:57pm
madi's picture
madi says:

that is very suprising and exciting i hope your grandpa had a good life

posted on Sun, 11/17/2013 - 12:52pm
Justin Barbee's picture
Justin Barbee says:

I relized that smoking is not a life to live. When you smoke you chance of cancer increases. Smoking can damage your lungs and kill you. I have witnessed death from smoking

posted on Tue, 11/26/2013 - 10:41am
Heather `lynn's picture
Heather `lynn says:

I think young people are stupid because they are smoking when they know what it does to your body . this is why i will never smoke. It also bugs me when people smoke around their kids.

posted on Mon, 12/30/2013 - 11:31am
ruby L's picture
ruby L says:

people know its bad. they still do. too wierd.

posted on Thu, 01/02/2014 - 2:29pm

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