Citizens for Clean Air and Clean Lungs

Kids Who Smoke Risk Permanent Genetic Damage

Smoking during childhood or in the teenage years can cause permanent genetic damage to the lungs, regardless of how many years a person smoked or when they quit.

The study, published in today's JOURNAL OF THE NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE, examined 143 lung cancer patients and analyzed the genetic damage in the patients' lungs caused by smoking.

"If we're right," said Dr. John Wiencke, who led the research, "it says that something happens in adolescence that changes you, perhaps forever."

The researchers, from the University of California at San Francisco, said the findings were particularly alarming in light of the number of adolescents who take up smoking every day.

"If it turns out that a very brief period of smoking during adolescence, or starting then, will have this long-lasting effect in terms of cancer development, even if you stop at a young age, that is absolutely frightening," said Dr. Minna, a lung cancer expert.

ASSOCIATED PRESS, (4/6/99) "Young Face Greater Smoking Perils", Paul Recer
New York Times, (4/7/99) "Genetic Damage in Young Smokers Is Linked to Lung Cancer", DENISE GRADY

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