Tuesday, October 18, 2016


The unflinching bastion of self destruction, smoking, remains the killer of killers. 7000 chemicals and 70 of those cancer provoking, makes smoking a scourge on humanity.  The information about smoking is well distributed to the general populace but common, stale news is no news in this hyped, always new information gathering world. Yet in face of all that information smokers still continue to live in the, “its all about the present and the past is who cares,” world. They live the mantra of “be in the present” and damn themselves to a continuity of misery for the future.

480,000 Americans succumb to cigarette and tobacco related products each year. That in itself is a travesty until you find out alcohol, car accidents, HIV, guns and illicit drugs combined do not wreck similar havoc on humanity. And to be sure smokers live shorter and unhealthier lives than non-smokers. And you can take that to the bank!

Chemicals associated with burnt tobacco:
Acetone – found in nail polish remover
Acetic Acid – an ingredient in hair dye
Ammonia – a common household cleaner
Arsenic – used in rat poison
Benzene – found in rubber cement
Butane – used in lighter fluid
Cadmium – active component in battery acid
Carbon Monoxide – released in car exhaust fumes
Formaldehyde – embalming fluid
Hexamine – found in barbecue lighter fluid
Lead – used in batteries
Naphthalene – an ingredient in mothballs
Methanol – a main component in rocket fuel
Nicotine – used as insecticide
Tar – material for paving roads
Toluene - used to manufacture paint

As most articles proclaim correctly, “smoking not only causes cancer. It can damage nearly every organ in the body, including the lungs, heart, blood vessels, reproductive organs, mouth, skin, eyes, and bones.”

This means each year smoking causes about 1 out of 5 deaths in the US. 30% of all cancers deaths are tobacco related, must give us pause. This complex tapestry of probabilities from smoking gets rolled up into a single tube conveying bad or worse news. The scale and damage caused by smoking is the single biggest healthcare problem wielded on humanity. In a multibillion dollar industry, the expenses in dealing with this disaster are close proxies for the truth.

Smoking and Cancer:

So, lung cancer is not he only cancer to materialize from a cigarette smoke. Many others fit the bill and include:

Mouth Cancer
Larynx Cancer
Pharynx Cancer
Esophagus Cancer
Kidney Cancer
Cervix Cancer
Bladder Cancer
Pancreas Cancer
Liver Cancer
Stomach Cancer
Colon/rectum Cancer
Myeloid leukemia

With so many cancers linked to cigarette smoke one wonders why and how? A recent article seems to suggest some possibilities in answering just such a question.

A study in Circgenetics; Epigenetic Signatures of Cigarette Smoking caught my eye. The Authors claimed that the epigenetic “footprint” of cigarette smoking became a carrier on the DNA for 30 years or longer. Now let us dissect that issue just a bit. If the “footprint” of the damaging effects on cigarette smoking resides as a methylating influence on the DNA, such influence can be furthered in its impact through other superimposed “nurturing” influences as well over time? In other words “piling on” of genetic influence can be the mitigating etiology of cancers found several years after cessation of cigarette smoking. Or putting it another way, say a person was exposed to a chemical but nothing really happened for a long time and then he/she started smoking, the “piling on” of such epigenetic burden on the DNA may influence mutation of a gene at a critical point to elicit unmitigated cell growth. Another example being Asbestos; a silicate material can slowly damage the lung by causing scarring of the lung lining resulting in Mesothelioma. Now add cigarette smoking to the burden and a higher rate of lung cancer occurs in these unfortunate individuals. The referenced study below describes at least ONE influence on at least 7000 genes. It makes it easier to understand from this, the far-reaching health impact and the various diseases that emanate from the act of smoking; the wide array from cancer to cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks and strokes, from emphysema, to miscarriages and low birth-weight infants and from osteoporosis of the bones to early deaths. The composite of this giant and dark tapestry unfolds a story like no other in the untimely frost that silences a voice.

For those needing to see more scientific methodological proof behind the study:

“To comprehensively determine the association between cigarette smoking and DNA methylation, we conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide DNA methylation assessed using the Illumina BeadChip 450K array on 15,907 blood derived DNA samples from participants in 16 cohorts (including 2,433 current, 6,518 former, and 6,956 never smokers). Comparing current versus never smokers, 2,623 CpG sites (CpGs), annotated to 1,405 genes, were statistically significantly differentially methylated at Bonferroni threshold of p<0 .0000001.="" font="">
Conclusions—Cigarette smoking has a broad impact on genome-wide methylation that, at many loci, persists many years after smoking cessation. Many of the differentially methylated genes were novel genes with respect to biologic effects of smoking, and might represent therapeutic targets for prevention or treatment of tobacco-related diseases. Methylation at these sites could also serve as sensitive and stable biomarkers of lifetime exposure to tobacco smoke.
Oh and speaking about costs, that everyone nowadays is screaming about in healthcare, the CDC states, “Smoking-related illness in the United States costs more than $300 billion each year, including: Nearly $170 billion for direct medical care for adults. More than $156 billion in lost productivity, including $5.6 billion in lost productivity due to secondhand smoke exposure.” Reducing cost of the healthcare burden by 1/3rd on both the private and public sector would be easy if we educated strongly and stopped nurturing victimhood of addiction.

A word to the wise: Please don’t smoke!

American Cancer Society. Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Facts & Figures 2015-2016. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society; 2015.

American Heart Association. Smoking & Cardiovascular Disease (Heart Disease). February 17, 2014. Accessed at www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/QuitSmoking/QuittingResources/Smoking-Cardiovascular-Disease_UCM_305187_Article.jsp#.VjuXViu8SxY on November 5, 2015.

American Lung Association. How Serious is COPD. Accessed at www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/copd/learn-about-copd/how-serious-is-copd.html on November 5, 2015.

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