Smoking, the most preventable cause of death, is responsible for at least 6 million deaths annually, worldwide.
New research confirms extensive genetic damage caused by smoking: not only in lungs, but also in other organs that are not directly exposed to smoke. The study further demonstrates that a pack of cigarettes a day causes an average of 150 mutations a year in lung cells.
While scientists have known that smoking contributes to at least 17 types of cancer, the ways in which smoke exposure damages DNA was previously unknown—specifically, how cigarettes cause tumors. Though lung tissue was shown to produce the greatest number of genetic mutations, other parts of the body displayed altered DNA, which clarifies the correlation between smoking and other various forms of cancer.
Working towards tracking genes and root causes is significant, as the underlying causes of most types of cancer are still not fully understood. The new research of smoking-related cancers will help researchers and scientists better understand the development of the disease, and potential preventions.
Yet despite the data collection and scientific studies, a continuation of the current trend indicates that smoking will kill over 1 billion people in the 21st century, according to the World Health Organization.