Cigarettes Start Giving You Cancer Within Minutes, Not Years

It doesn’t take years for smoking to start the cancer-making process in your body, but minutes, according to a new study in the Chemical Research in Toxicology.

The study looked at polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which are believed to be one of the major likely inciters of cancer in smokers. Researchers looked at how PAH was metabolized by the smokers’ bodies, and found it was quickly transformed into diol epoxides.

These chemicals are mutagenic and carcinogenic, which means they damage and alter DNA and are directly involved in causing cancer. This process only took 15-30 minutes. Which means that death sticks start living up to their name in less than half an hour.

“The results clearly demonstrate immediate negative health consequences of smoking,” wrote the researchers, “which should serve as a major warning to anyone contemplating initiating tobacco use.”

Immediate Consequences of Cigarette Smoking: Rapid Formation of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Diol Epoxides [Chemical Research in Toxicology via BBC]