Health Watch - Cancer Advances: Smoking and Cancer

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This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about advances in cancer research. We’ve known for decades that cigarette smoking increases your risk for developing lung cancer. Now researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found exactly what genetic damage the chemicals in cigarette smoke cause.

The cancer-causing chemicals in cigarette smoke bind to DNA and cause mutations that lead to cancer. Researchers compared the entire sequence of DNA from lung cancer cells to DNA from normal cells to see exactly what the genetic damage is. Dr. John Minna, a
UT Southwestern oncologist, says this knowledge may help researchers find ways to prevent cancer, diagnose it earlier and select specific treatments to target each tumor. This study showed that for about every 15 cigarettes smoked, a person develops one genetic mutation. There were about 23,000 mutations in the tumor cells studied. Cells attempt to repair the damage, but are not entirely successful.

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February 2010


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