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You’d be Surprised Which of the 4000 Chemicals in Cigarette Smoke Might Likely Cause Lung Cancer.

by ScienceDave | February 28, 2008 at 12:49 pm | 516 views | 9 comments

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Hydrogen peroxide.  Yep, the same chemical we use to disinfect minor cuts, scrapes, and road rash can, when exposed to lung cells, cause cancer.  

Hydrogen peroxide, a chemical cousin of water (H2O2), is highly oxidative (which is why it makes for a great disinfectant), has previously been shown to cause a mutation in a cellular component associated with various forms of cancer.  The researchers naturally reasoned, “Well, if H2O2 is a major constituent of cigarette smoke, how might the two compare?”

Now, please don’t misinterpret this as saying, “Don’t disinfect your kid’s scraped knee, he or she will get knee cancer!”   

The recent study published in the journal FASEB took lung cells cultured in the laboratory and exposed them to three treatments: H2O2 alone, cigarette smoke along, and clean air.  They observed the lung cells for specific cellular changes unique to those that precede cancer.  Indeed, both cigarette smoke and H2O2 produced similar responses, leaving the author’s to infer, “we not only show that cigarette smoke can activate the EGFR [the cellular component alluded to above] in a dose- and time-dependent manner, but it also aberrantly phosphorylates [i.e. promotes the cell to enter a cancerous state] the receptor.” 

“Guns kill, bombs kill and cigarettes kill,” said Gerald Weissmann, MD, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “While biologists can’t do much about the first two, studies like this will help in the fight against tobacco-related death and disease.  These experiments not only pin-point new molecular targets for cancer treatment, but also identify culprits in cigarette smoke that eventually will do the smoker in.”

February 28, 2008 at 12:49 pm by ScienceDave, 516 views, 9 comments

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good stuff:

ScienceDave, wouldn’t they have to isolate and test the other 3999 chemicals to prove that H2O2 is the only culprite?

Ryan, totally.  But what I left out was all the science (i.e. their methodology).  Basically, what they saw was (from my understanding, that is), the effects of H2O2 along and the effects of cigarette smokehad similar effects on the cells.

Of course, these are just cells, and aren’t real lungs of a living breathing human being.

Yeah, it wasn’t clear to me how they conducted the experiment.

So why isn’t it a carcinogen when applied to the skin?  

Great question, one that I don’t have a clear answer to (because I don’t really know).

Skin cells and lung cells are very different breeds of human cells: one is meant to protect your body from the harsh elements of the ouside world, the other is an ooey gooey meshwork meant to absorb and transfer gases.  Intuitively, it seems lung cells would be more prone to damage.

Furthermore, the length and occurence of exposure could be very important.  If you treat your wounds with H2O2, its a short time period (on tough skin cells), whereas avid smokers inhale the stuff from 20-40 cigarettes a day.

I am excited for the no h2o2 cigs to come out. ahhh yes. Oh but than we have to get Hydrogen Cyanide free, than Carbon Monoxide free, oh darn a pack of cigs wil cost 50 bucks.

They’d be tightly-rolled twists of plain paper!

good stuff:

Any little advancement helps. It’s amazing how relatively medieval our cancer treatment is: either cut it out with a knife or nuke the entire patient. Targeted approaches are slowly developing, though, as this article shows.

good stuff:

ScienceDave, I like this story. It’s good stuff.

The filters will just get bigger… like the ones in 5th element… I’ll try to find a picture…

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