Photo: Getty Images
Science has shown that smoking or even being exposed to second-hand smoke increases the risk of developing lung cancer. A U.S. Surgeon General’s Report released in December 2010 stated that “smoking causes more than 85 percent of all lung cancers and can cause cancer almost anywhere in the body.” Now two recent studies show that people who tend to smoke first thing after waking up in the morning are at higher risk of developing several kinds of cancer including cancer of the lung, head, and neck.
Cancer is a disease that results when cells in the body grow out of control. Normally, cells in the body develop, serve their purpose, then die and are replaced by new cells. In cancer, cells remain alive and continue to grow out of control. These cells also form more abnormal cells and can sometimes invade other cells or surrounding tissue.
Cancer cells are the result of changes in DNA inside the cell. DNA is found in every cell. It controls the action and function of the cell and is duplicated when a cell forms new cells. Some people are born with genetic abnormalities that cause cells to grow incorrectly and develop into cancer. In other cases, something harmful, like cigarette smoke, interacts with cells as they are reproducing. Damaged DNA that is not repaired by the body can grow out of control and become cancer.
Smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes is known to cause an increased risk of cancer. Nicotine, one of the chemicals found in tobacco products, is addictive which means people who smoke will become dependent on nicotine and will crave more of it. Researchers at the Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey studied what impact nicotine dependence has on the risk of developing cancer. They used the amount of time between waking and having the first cigarette of the day as an indicator of dependence on nicotine.
The study included 4,775 people who had lung cancer and 2,835 people who did not have cancer. All were regular cigarette smokers.