Scientists have identified how cigarettes damage your DNA

❝ The dangers of smoking tobacco are undeniable — it kills more than 480,000 in the US alone each year. Scientists have known for a while that smoking tobacco causes significant damage to the body; as well as causing or worsening respiratory and cardiovascular issues, smoking can trigger genetic mutations that can result in cancer. But the detailed mechanisms on how smoking wreaks damage on the body’s DNA have remained somewhat elusive.

❝ There’s finally some clarity in a new study, which provides a comprehensive picture on the devastating impact of smoking. People who smoke a pack a day (20 cigarettes) for a year develop the following mutations every year:

150 extra mutations in each lung cell
97 in each larynx cell (voice box)
23 in each mouth cell
18 in each bladder cell
six in each liver cell.

Each mutation doesn’t necessarily pose an immediate danger (most mutations are relatively harmless). But the more mutations there are, the higher the risk that accumulating mutations occur in key genes that turn cells cancerous.

❝ “You can really think of it as playing Russian roulette,” Ludmil Alexandrov, lead researcher and biologist at Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico told the Guardian. “You can miss the right genes. But if you smoke you still play the game. It’s a very strong message for people not to start smoking. If you smoke even a little bit you’ll erode the genetic material of most of the cells in your body.”

One of my few really bright accomplishments at an early age. Quitting smoking. Like most kids in my factory town neighborhood, I was smoking by age 12. It’s what our parents did. Made us “grown-ups”. By 20 I was smoking over 2 packs a day.

Quit cold turkey. Motivation doesn’t matter. Ayup, one of the best things I did for my own life as a young man.

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