Scientists Find a Link between Tobacco and Genetic Mutations that Lead to Cancer

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Jill Chadwick

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           Researchers say they’ve found the ‘smoking molecular gun’ that explains what doctors have long known … smoking leads to cancer.  The study, published in the journal Science shows that smoking tobacco damages a person’s DNA.  “It not only affects cells that directly come into contact with the smoke such as a smoker’s lips, mouth, throat and lungs,” Roy Jensen, MD, director, The University of Kansas Cancer Center and professor, the University of Kansas Medical Center said. “Smoking tobacco also speeds up a mutational cellular clock in organs in other parts of the body.”

            The study showed the most damaging mutations resulting from direct exposure: 150 extra mutations in lung cells annually from smoking a pack a day, 97 in the larynx and 39 in the oral cavity.  Doctors have linked tobacco smoking to at least 17 types of cancer and six million deaths each year.  The American Lung Association reports men who smoke are 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer than someone who has never smoked compared to women who are 13 times more at risk. 

            In the video below, Dr. Jensen explains the research and talks more about how it will help doctors in understanding tobacco related cancers.