• Smoking damages the body in minutes rather than years, according to research in the US.
  • The report, published in Chemical Research in Toxicology, shows that chemicals which cause cancer form rapidly after smoking.
  • Scientists involved in the small-scale study described the results as a stark warning to people considering smoking.
  • Anti-smoking charity Ash described the research as "chilling" and as a warning that it is never too early to quit.
  • The long term impact of smoking, from heart disease to a range of cancers, is well known.
  • This study suggests the damage begins just moments after the first cigarette is smoked.
  • The researchers looked at the level of chemicals linked with cancer, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), in 12 patients after smoking.
  • A PAH was added to subject's cigarettes, which was then modified by the body and turned into another chemical which damages DNA and has been linked with cancer.
  • The research shows this process only took between 15 and 30 minutes to take place.
  • "The chilling thing shows that how early the very first stages of that process begin - not in 30 years but within 30 minutes of a single cigarette."
  • "The process starts early but it is never too late to quit and the sooner you quit the sooner you start to reduce the harm."

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