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Genes & Cells

Smoking can damage DNA in a flash, plus more in this week's news

4:23pm, February 4, 2011

Quick hit
Smoking can cause immediate damage to DNA, a new study warns. Within minutes of puffing a cigarette, a chemical in smoke called a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, or PAH, gets converted into a DNA-damaging form known as a PAH diol epoxide in smokers' blood, researchers from the University of Minnesota discovered. "The results reported here should serve as a stark warning to those who are considering starting to smoke cigarettes: PAH diol epoxide formation occurs immediately and is not a theoretical long-term effect," the team writes in the Feb. 18 Chemical Research in Toxicology. —Tina Hesman Saey

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