The small scale study which was funded by the US Cancer Institute, found that chemicals which are known to cause cancer form rapidly after smoking, inflicting damage just moments after the first cigarette is smoked.
The team of scientists analysed the level of cancer causing chemicals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), in 12 patients after smoking.
A PAH was added to the volunteers cigarettes, which was then adapted by the body and turned into a different chemical which damages DNA and has been linked with cancer. This process occurs rapidly, taking as little as 15 – 30 minutes.
Anti-smoking charity Ash have commented on these recent findings, describing them as ‘chilling’ and adding that it is never too early to quit.
In addition, Professor Stephen Hecht, from the University of Minnesota, said: “This study is unique, it is the first to investigate human metabolism of a PAH specifically delivered by inhalation in cigarette smoke, without interference by other sources of exposure such as air pollution or the diet”.
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