Research: Cigarettes permanently damage smokers’ DNA

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OK, smoking gives you lung cancer, it makes you impotent, it can lead to Alzheimer’s…

… want another reason to quit smoking? It also permanently damages smokers’ DNA. Put those words together in a sentence … permanently …. damaged … DNA.

This is something I was somewhat already aware of — it’s the DNA damage smoking causes that has a lot to do with smokers developing lung cancer. I know I’m seriously oversimplifying it, but it comes down to smoking breaking the DNA strands, which leads to cell mutation, which leads to tumours. Keep in mind, cigarette smoke actually contains Polonium-210, a radioactive isotope.

I don't know what's going on in this photo, but I thought it was funny.
I don’t know what’s going on in this photo, but I thought it was funny.

According to this research done at Harvard Medical School, the damage to a smokers’ DNA does fade over time if a smoker quits. However, it does not completely vanish. There ain’t no undoing some of the damage. It lingers … for life.

From an NBC News article:

The marks are made in a process called methylation, which is an alteration of DNA that can inactivate a gene or change how it functions — often causing cancer and other diseases.

“Our study has found compelling evidence that smoking has a long-lasting impact on our molecular machinery, an impact that can last more than 30 years,” said Roby Joehanes of Hebrew SeniorLife and Harvard Medical School.

Heart disease and cancer are both caused by genetic damage — some of it inherited, but most of it caused by day-to-day living. Smoking is one of the biggest culprits.

“The encouraging news is that once you stop smoking, the majority of DNA methylation signals return to never-smoker levels after five years, which means your body is trying to heal itself of the harmful impacts of tobacco smoking,” Joehanes said.

Smoking scars DNA in clear patterns, researchers reported Tuesday. Most of the damage fades over time, they found — but not all of it.

Their study of 16,000 people found that while most of the disease-causing genetic footprints left by smoking fade after five years if people quit, some appear to stay there forever.

Image: A customer smokes a cigarette in a cafe

A customer smokes a cigarette in a cafe in Prague, Czech Republic, May 25, 2016.DAVID W CERNY / Reuters, file

The marks are made in a process called methylation, which is an alteration of DNA that can inactivate a gene or change how it functions — often causing cancer and other diseases.

“Our study has found compelling evidence that smoking has a long-lasting impact on our molecular machinery, an impact that can last more than 30 years,” said Roby Joehanes of Hebrew SeniorLife and Harvard Medical School.

Heart disease and cancer are both caused by genetic damage — some of it inherited, but most of it caused by day-to-day living. Smoking is one of the biggest culprits.

“The encouraging news is that once you stop smoking, the majority of DNA methylation signals return to never-smoker levels after five years, which means your body is trying to heal itself of the harmful impacts of tobacco smoking,” Joehanes said.

The team examined blood samples given by 16,000 people taking part in various studies going back to 1971. In all the studies, people have given blood samples and filled out questionnaires about smoking, diet, lifestyle and their health histories.

Among quitters, most of these changes reverted to the patterns seen in people who never smoked after about five years, the team reported in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics.

But smoking-related changes in 19 genes, including the TIAM2 gene linked to lymphoma, lasted 30 years, the team found.

DNA damage. Some pretty heavy and scary stuff. And it makes me also worry what DNA damage might be caused by breathing in secondhand smoke.

Big Tobacco stooge John Boehner joins the board of RJ Reynolds

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Well, knock me over with a feather.

Chain-smoker and notorious Big Tobacco congressional stooge John Boehner last week joined the RJ Reynolds board of directors.

Why am I not surprised. Yeah, believe it or not, this is absolutely a true story, Boehner once handed out cheques from tobacco companies on the floor of the U.S. Congress before he became Speaker of the House. He did this actually on the floor of the U.S. Capitol in 1995. the cheques were an attempt to persuade representatives from voting against a bill cutting tax breaks to Big Tobacco. Boehner and Big Tobacco’s tactics won the day.

What a shill! What  a sleaze.

Boehner reportedlt received nearly half a million in campaign contributions from Big Tobacco during his political career, and he was notorious for doing tobacco’s bidding during his many years in Congress.

From this story:

Big Tobacco made nice with Boehner early in his career and kept the money coming. Over his 14 years in the House, Boehner received $497,112 in direct contributions from the tobacco lobby. Boehner stayed loyal, consistently siding with the tobacco industry’s wishes in legislative battles.

And what a surprise! Boehner, after resigning his House seat and his Speaker of the House post, has glided into post-politics retirement as an actual corporate board member of RJ Reynolds.

From a National Public Radio story:

“RAI (RJ Reynolds) is striving to transform the tobacco industry through innovative strategies that include speeding the decline in tobacco use among young people and reducing the harm caused by smoking,” said a Boehner spokesman. “These are objectives Speaker Boehner supports and looks forward to helping RAI advance through his service on the board.”

Supposedly, Boehner was such a heavy smoker that current House Speaker Paul Ryan had to have the Speaker’s office fumigated and the furniture replaced because of the smoky stench.

I would never wish lung cancer on anyone, but John … dude … you’re pushing that sentiment to the limit.

 

 

Wow, video of an e-cigarette bursting into flames

I’ve written a bit in the past about one of the issues with e-cigarettes … that there’s not a whole lot of regulation about how they’re built and they do have a dangerous habit of exploding/bursting into flames from time to time.

At this point, probably hundreds of people have suffered major and minor burns from exploding e-cigs. Granted, a might be a minor issue compared to the overall question of the safety of e-cigarette vapour, but it’s just another reason why I don’t trust these thing.

Watch the video. It’s pretty harrowing. It’s definitely a “holy crap!” moment. Imagine if you will if you were actually holding that e-cig when it erupted into flames.

 

 

African-American doctors urge banning menthol cigarettes

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For some reason, I’m not sure why, menthol cigarettes are favoured by black smokers (interestingly, my parents were big menthol smokers for years and they were decidedly not black)… and Big Tobacco has long marketed menthols to black smokers.

In fact, 75 percent of the smokers of the second biggest cigarette brand — Newport cigarettes — are black. Newports are mentholated. Man, here’s a shocking stat — 83 percent of older black smokers prefer mentholated brands, while 72 percent of young black smokers also prefer menthol cigs.

Newport trails only Marlboro as the most popular brand in the U.S. .. mostly because so many blacks smoke them. Newport was also the No. 1 brand for Lorillard, which is now part of RJ Reynolds.

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Newport, a menthol cigarette, is the No. 1 brand among African-American smokers.

Interestingly, several years ago, the Food and Drug Administration banned candy-flavoured cigarettes, such as cherry, raspberry, etc., because these cigarettes were obviously being marketed to kids. However, the FDA did nothing about menthol cigarettes, which have a candhy-like minty flavour. Menthol cigarettes were grandfathered in.

A group called the African-American Tobacco Control Leadership Council last week called on Barack Obama to ban menthol cigarettes (not really sure if Obama could actually do this by Executive action).

One of the big problems with menthol is that it makes cigarette smoke less harsh and easier to ingest, thus making cigarette smoke that much more dangerous for the smoker.

Yeah, I don’t get the logic of banning candy cigarettes, but not a minty cigarette. It just shows that there is a too-cozy relationship at times between the FDA and Big Tobacco.

Update on the Lounge

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I am going through a major life change right now, so haven’t been updating much and won’t be updating much for probably a couple of more weeks.

On another note, this week was the second anniversary of the Lounge with our current Web host, so thanks for them for good, consistent service. Our previous Web host was a nightmare, and don’t get me going on WordPress.

Anyway, thanks for hanging in there on the Realm! A couple of updates tonight, then will be off for probably two weeks.