Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dosen't Take a Rocket Scientist to Light a Cigarette

That’s right! In fact most scientist know better than to light up. Of course, everyone knows that smoking has a negative reputation. It turns your teeth yellow, makes your breath smell terrible (your clothes too), makes you look old, oh yeah and it causes cancer. I think it would be safe to say that the general population is aware that these cancer-causing sticks have something in them that does not belong in a human beings body. Yet 24.8 million men and 21.1 million women continue to ignore the risks and burn one (NHIS, 2008). It is shocking to me that with the proven side effects that cigarettes cause people continue to use them. Maybe its because people want to know the specifics? They don’t care that it is the cause of at least 18 types of cancer, or that lung cancer takes a global toll of at least 3,000 lives each day. Maybe they want to know how.

Well researchers are well on their way to giving the people what they want (or what I think they want?). A sir Stephen S. Hechet and a bunch of his scientific sidekicks were able to pinpoint one of cigarettes dirty little culprits that weasels its way into your blood stream, latching on to your DNA and wreaking havoc. Science News.

DNA yeah, yeah, everyone has heard of THAT before, something about it being the genetic code and making us who we are. That’s right! It is pretty key to sustaining life, in fact all living animals have some and its what distinguishes the way we look from the way the star nosed mole looks (and trust me those aren’t pretty). DNA is not only good for our looks; it is also important to our health. There are tons of diseases that are a result of a mishap in DNA. You know how when you go to zip a zipper and one of the zipper teeth is broken or ‘mutated’ and your hand flies off cause it gets stuck and you have to go back and yank it, to get it all the way zipped? Well a genetic disease is a lot like that. One little mutation can throw the whole system off,causing major problems. This is why we do not want tomess with our DNA because isn’t a broken zipper the biggest pain?

Any way,what I’m getting at here is this team of scientists found a villain to our DNA, in cigarette smoke. It goes by the name polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, PAH for short. This evil chemical has the ability to transform into an even eviler version of itself, PAH diol epoxide. PAH transforms almost immediately in the blood of smokers and its target is DNA. It can cause mutations in DNA that cause cancer. The effects of PAH diol has been shown to take place fast, as little as 15-30 minutes after inhaling cigarette smoke.

This is the first time researchers have been able to pinpoint a cancer-causing substance found in cigarette smoke, with out other factors such as exposure to air pollution or the smokers diet. PAH is found in the smoke of cigarettes, harmless until it reaches your blood where its evil plans to attack your DNA begin to unfold, when it transforms into PAH diol epoxide and becomes a toxic chemical. Now that its identity has been uncovered, there is no denying its involvement in causing cancer, your best bet to dodge this villain is to avoid setting it free from its cigarette encasement. DON’T SMOKE.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting! You did a great job hooking the reader and also made it easy for a non-science person to understand it!