Cigarettes have been known to cause negative long-term health effects, but a new study shows that within minutes of inhaling smoke, individuals can begin damaging their genes.
A recent study that appeared in the Chemical Research in Toxicology journal found that the negative consequences of smoking begin as soon as the first inhalation. Experts tracked the chemical, phenanthrene, in 12 volunteers who used cigarettes as a part of the research. When consumed, the chemical causes the body to release a toxic substance that destroys genetic material. This can cause mutations that may lead to cancer in the future.
Smokers who participated in the study developed the maximum amount of the chemical possible within 30 minutes of using the cigarettes. Experts said that these results were the equivalent of injecting the chemical directly into the body.
Stephen Hecht, the lead author of the study, said that this research is the first of its kind. He hopes that the results of his research will encourage individuals to think twice before choosing to use cigarettes.
Approximately 20 percent of adults in the U.S. were regular smokers in 2006, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the leading cause of preventable death and has been proven to cause diseases, including cancer.