After analyzing many tumor genomes, a group of scientists has found out that people smoking 20 cigarettes a day will suffer a median of 150 DNA mutations in each lung cell every year.
Worse, these changes are irreversible and will continue regardless of whether you quit smoking or not. Scientists believe that tumor DNA might help them explain the main factors influencing the development of other forms of cancer.
This way, the will be able to prevent the onset of cancer or at least detect it in its early stages. Pamela Pugh, a lung cancer patient, diagnosed in 2013, confessed that she started smoking when she was 17 years old and quit in her 50s.
It is worth mentioning that she was diagnosed at the age of 66, meaning that by the time of the diagnose, there were at least ten years since she hadn’t smoked. She further stressed that the long-term consequences of smoking eventually caught up with her.
The woman underlined that if she had known that smoking was such a life-threatening habit, she would have never fallen into that trap.
Based on recent findings, the more cigarettes you smoked during your life, the more tumor DNA mutations you suffered. In other words, scientists claim these two facts are directly related. More precisely, smoking a pack of cigarettes every day causes six mutations in a smoker’s liver and eighteen in the bladder.
Worse, 23 DNA mutations were observed in a smoker’s mouth, and a staggering 97 in the voice box or larynx. However, the highest prevalence occurred in lung cells, where 150 DNA were observed during a year.
According to Professor Mike Stratton with the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, a high number of mutations make the smoker more likely to develop cancer genes, which transform normal cells into cancer cells.
The team underlined that the lungs are most likely to develop a tumor because they suffer the highest exposure to the tobacco smoke, which contains countless of chemical compounds, out of which minimum sixty are carcinogens.
The rates were lower in other areas which were not directly exposed to the tobacco smoke. Experts stress that around nine out of ten lung cancer cases can be prevented if people quit smoking.
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