Considered ‘cool’ at a time, smoking has caused more damage to the human race than any other narcotics. There are more than 7000 chemicals that are pumped into the body of the smoke with every puff.
Out of these, around 70 are extremely harmful chemicals and are the root cause of more than 17 forms of cancer in different parts of the body. However, how these chemicals affect the molecular mechanism of the cell structure and mutate the DNA was not clear until now.
David Phillips who is a professor of environmental carcinogenesis at King’s College London and a co-author on the study that was conducted recently. He said that the study was conducted to find the root cause of cancer. By understanding what causes it we can work more extensively on prevention of cancer.
The harmful chemicals in the tobacco smoke mutate the cells directly in a very subtle way. They directly disrupt the functioning of the cells and as the mutation gets hold of the cells they get cancerous.
It all depends on how quickly you hit the right gene
People often raise the question if cigarettes cause cancer then why a lot of them often smoke regularly without any noticeable harmful effects like cancer. The reason is quite simple. The cell mutation happens as different rate depending on the lifestyle and immune system. If a person is a heavy smoker, there is a much larger chance of getting the mutation at some point in life.
Ludmil Alexandrov who is a theoretical biologist at Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico and the first author of the study also issued a statement about the mutation. He said that smoking is just like playing the Russian roulette.
If you keep on playing the game, you will definitely hit the right gene one day and it will grow cancerous.
The scientists spotted more than 20 mutational signatures linked to 13 different kinds of cancer caused by smoking. Five out of these 20 mutations were more common in the smokers’ tumors. One of the patterns of mutations which have been named as signature four is linked to lung cancer.
Benzopyrene which is a chemical found in tobacco smoke is the major cause of this mutation. Apart from the lungs, other organs like the bladder, kidneys and pancreas are also effective by the tobacco smoking, however, they do not come in direct contact with the smoke itself. Scientists are now trying to find out how different chemicals in the tobacco smoke play role in cell mutation so that they can develop different ways to prevent the disease.