Smoking can lead to permanent damage to genes. When young people smoke, the amount of damage can be even greater and have a more serious effect. Damage to the DNA, caused by smoking, increases the chances of getting cancer.
The use of tobacco products causes chemical changes in DNA, called DNA adducts. The DNA adducts are examples of genetic damage caused by smoking and/or use of tobacco products. These changes in DNA can affect replication leading to dysregulated cells. We can determine the amount of damage that has been done by tobacco by counting the number of DNA adducts. The more adducts, the more damage.
One of the important genes damaged by cigarette smoke is called p53. This gene is called a "tumor suppressor" because it causes damaged cells to die. This gene suppresses or stops the development of tumors. When the p53 gene is damaged by smoking, dysfunctional cells will survive and grow. These injured cells can become cancerous.
We know that cancer risk increases with the number of years a person uses tobacco products. New research shows that younger users are at greater risk and that there is more damage done to younger smokers than older ones.
|American Cancer Society|
|National Cancer Institute|