Each year of smoking leads to 150 new lung mutations.
Attention smokers: For every year that you continue your pack-a-day habit, the DNA in every cell in your lungs acquires about 150 new mutations.
Some of those mutations may be harmless, but the more there are, the greater the risk that one or more of them will wind up causing cancer.
The threat doesn’t stop there, according to a study in Friday’s edition of the journal Science. After a year of smoking a pack of cigarettes each day, the cells in the larynx pick up roughly 97 new mutations, those in the pharynx accumulate 39 new mutations, and cells in the oral cavity gain 23 new mutations.
Even organs with no direct exposure to tobacco smoke appear to be affected. The researchers counted about 18 new mutations in every bladder cell and six new mutations in every liver cell for each “pack-year” that smokers smoked.
The findings are based on a genetic analysis of 5,243 cancers, including 2,490 from smokers and 1,063 from patients who said they had never smoked tobacco cigarettes.
At this point, it should come as no surprise that cigarettes are bad for your health. The U.S. surgeon general has warned about the dangers of smoking for more than 50 years. The American Cancer Society recently calculated that in a single year, at least 167,133 cancer deaths in the U.S. could be blamed on smoking.
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