A little smoking also causes changes in the genetic structure of cells in the respiratory tract.
Smoke and genes
From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.
Researchers who checked genes in cells from people’s airways say breathing even a little cigarette smoke can affect the genes. The scientists examined genes from heavy smokers and those who were exposed to only a little smoke. They saw the same type of changes in both, although the amount was less in people who breathed less smoke.
At Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, researcher Ronald Crystal has this warning for light smokers or people who breathe secondhand smoke:
“Don’t think that it’s not affecting you. Your lung cells know it. They are behaving abnormally. And for some individuals who are at risk, they are more susceptible for developing lung disease.’’ (10 seconds)
The study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine was supported by the National Institutes of Health.