- Pollutants in cigarettes called PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) can cause genetic damage in minutes.
- Researchers say the "effect is so fast that it's equivalent to injecting the substance directly into the bloodstream."
- This genetic damage can lead to lung cancer, a cancer that kills 3,000 people around the world each day.
Those first few puffs on a cigarette can within minutes cause genetic damage linked to cancer, US scientists said in a study released Saturday.
In fact, researchers said the "effect is so fast that it's equivalent to injecting the substance directly into the bloodstream," in findings described as a "stark warning" to those who smoke.
The study is the first on humans to track how substances in tobacco cause DNA damage, and appears in the peer-reviewed journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, issued by the American Chemical Society.
Using 12 volunteer smokers, scientists tracked pollutants called PAHs, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, that are carried in tobacco smoke and can also be found in coal-burning plants and in charred barbecue food.