Navigation Links
Even healthy-looking smokers have early cell damage which destroys necessary genetic programming
Date:7/16/2013

NEW YORK (July 16, 2013) -- Smokers who've received a clean bill of health from their doctor may believe cigarettes haven't harmed their lungs. However, researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College have found that even smokers who seem healthy have damaged airway cells, with characteristics similar to cells found in aggressive lung cancer.

The study, published today in the journal Stem Cell, compared cells that line the airway from healthy nonsmokers with those from smokers with no detectable lung disease. The smokers' cells showed early signs of impairment, similar to that found in lung cancer -- providing evidence that smoking causes harm, even when there is no clinical evidence that anything is wrong.

"The study doesn't say these people have cancer, but that the cells are already starting to lose control and become disordered," says the study's senior investigator, Dr. Ronald G. Crystal, chairman and professor of genetic medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. "The smoker thinks they are normal, and their doctor's exam is normal, but we know at the biologic level that all cigarette smokers' lungs are abnormal to some degree."

The researchers found that in the cells lining the airways of the smokers's lungs, human embryonic stem cell genes had been turned on. These are genes that are normally expressed in developing embryos -- soon after eggs are fertilized -- before cells are programmed with their specific assignment. This gene is also "on" in the most aggressive, hard-to-treat lung cancers.

"We were surprised to see that the smokers were expressing these very primitive human embryonic stem cell genes," Dr. Crystal says. "These genes are not normally functioning in the healthy lung."

Healthy lung cells, like all of the body's cells, have very specific assignments. Although all of the body's cells contain the same genes, genes are only "turned on" for each cell's defined task. Therefore, healthy lung cells only express genes related to lung function, while brain cells express brain-specific genes. "Healthy cells are very tightly controlled. Normal cells have rules and only do certain things," says Dr. Crystal. "In cancer, that control is lost."

This loss of control allows cancerous cells to multiply without restraint and enables them to migrate to other organs because the genetic programming that keeps them on task is in disarray. The study found that smokers' cells were in the very early stages of losing this control.

"When you smoke a cigarette, some of the genetic programming of your lung cells is lost," says Dr. Crystal. "Your cells take on the appearance of a more primitive cell. It doesn't necessarily mean you will develop cancer, but that the soil is fertile to develop cancer."

In the study, 21 healthy nonsmokers were compared to 31 smokers who had no lung disease symptoms and had normal X-rays as well as normal chest examinations. All individuals were evaluated at Weill Cornell's Clinical and Translational Science Center and Department of Genetic Medicine Clinical Research Facility. By sending a thin tube called a bronchoscope and a fine brush into the lungs, investigators gently brushed the inside of the airways to collect cells from the airway's lining. Researchers examined these cells, called the airway epithelium, which come into contact with cigarette smoke and are where cancer begins, Dr. Crystal says.

Routine checkups can mislead smokers into thinking cigarettes aren't hurting their bodies. However, these results paint a different picture. "Physical examinations, lung function tests and chest x-rays are not sensitive enough to pick up these very early changes," Dr. Crystal warns doctors and smokers. "The take-home message is: Don't smoke. Smoking is bad and if you smoke, you're at risk."

Additional studies are needed to determine why exposure to smoke causes these changes, so that researchers can pinpoint particular areas for designing treatments. "This study gives us clues about how cells look on the way to developing lung cancer, which can help us develop therapies," Dr. Crystal says.

Beyond treatments, Dr. Crystal also hopes the research can lay the foundation for lung cancer prevention. Smoking is an addiction, he says, and despite high taxes and ads describing the dangers, 20 percent of the population continues to smoke. "Eventually, the goal is to develop therapies to protect the airways from cigarettes and other pollutants," Dr. Crystal says. "Understanding these very early events will give us clues and help us develop ways to protect the lungs."


'/>"/>

Contact: John Rodgers
pr@med.cornell.edu
646-317-7401
Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Healthy-Looking Pigs at State Fair Found to Have Swine Flu
2. Single men, smokers at higher risk for oral human papillomavirus infection, Moffitt study shows
3. Smokers Cost Employers Thousands More Than Nonsmokers
4. Revolutionary Affiliate Program Helps Smokers Quit the Habit in 10 Days
5. Campaign Urges Smokers to Enlist Doctors Help in Quitting
6. For Pregnant Smokers, Vitamin C Might Help Babies Lungs
7. Vitamin C may head off lung problems in babies born to pregnant smokers
8. Women Smokers More Likely to Get Colon Cancer Than Men: Study
9. Women smokers may have greater risk for colon cancer than men
10. Lung Cancer Asbestos Victims Center Now Urges Lung Cancer Victims Who Are Nonsmokers And Were Exposed To Asbestos On The Job To Call Them-Possible Major Compensation
11. Low levels of serum bilirubin spell higher lung cancer risk for male smokers
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:10/13/2017)... , ... October 13, 2017 , ... The American Board ... become its next President and Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Dr. James C. Puffer upon ... beginning July 1, 2018 until Dr. Puffer’s retirement at the end of 2018. Upon ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... Nevada (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... ... Hemp CBD Oil utilizing Purzorb™ technology. Applying the Purzorb™process to full spectrum CBD oil ... required and providing a CBD form that can be easily incorporated into liquid products, ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Lori R. Somekh, founder of the ... a national organization of elder law and special needs planning attorneys. “Membership in ElderCounsel ... also provides a forum to network with elder law attorneys nationwide,” said Somekh. ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... Calif. (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... Many ... dementia. However, many long-term care insurance companies have a waiver for care if the ... 90-day elimination period, when the family pays for care, is often waived, so the ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... Ellevate Network, ... in business to advocate for action towards gender equality at their inaugural Summit in ... around the globe, and reached a social audience of over 3 million. To watch ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/2/2017)... , Oct. 2, 2017  Eli Lilly and ... financial results for the third quarter of 2017 on ... conference call on that day with the investment community ... The conference call will begin at 9 ... can access a live webcast of the conference call ...
(Date:10/2/2017)... announces the European launch of their new low volume, high throughput ... Cambridge, U.K on October 4th. The new ... unprecedented speed and sensitivity while using far less sample volume through ... ... ...
(Date:9/28/2017)... CHICAGO , Sept. 28, 2017 Hill-Rom ... quarter 2017 earnings conference call and webcast on Friday, ... 8:00 a.m. (EDT) and ending at approximately 8:30 a.m. ... to discussing the company,s 2017 financial performance and guidance ... growth opportunities, initiatives to enhance operational performance, and long-range ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: