When you take a drag from a cigarette you are inhaling a mixture of 4700 toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, as well as, a lung full of reactive oxygen species (ROS)[i]. In fact, cigarette smoke contains 1017 oxidant molecules per puff.[ii] These “oxidative forces” roam the system like scavengers attacking biological molecules like lipids, proteins and DNA; inflicting severe damage at the cellular level.[iii] When enough of these free radicals are present (both exogenous and endogenous), they can upset the balance that they normally maintain with the antioxidant defense mechanism, which prevents cellular damage and the genesis of disease.[iv]
More recent research has shed light on the more extensive impairment caused to a particular transcription factor of DNA that functions as the “master regulator” of the antioxidant response. It regulates the expression of genes that are responsible for such things as inflammatory and immune responses, tissue remodeling, carcinogenesis, addictive behavior, etc.[v] One study found increased levels of oxidative stress in the bronchoalveolar in older smokers who had a history of long-term smoking. One of the most important antioxidants in the body is glutathione, which in this study, had been stripped of its oxygen molecules (oxidized) causing (OS) in the lungs.[vi] In other research, data showed that oxidative stress was significantly higher in smokers than non-smokers.[vii]
The significance of the damage caused by (OS) due to cigarette smoking is that (OS) is a leading factor in chronic inflammation, and a major contributor in the pathophysiology of many chronic diseases in which smoking is a risk factor, such as, atherosclerosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.[viii]
Related Article: The Two Most Important Antioxidants Smokers Need to Take
[i] Marisol Canoa, Rajesh Thimmalappulab, Masashi Fujiharaa, Norihiro Nagaia, Michael Spornc, Ai Ling Wangd, Arthur H. Neufeldd, Shyam Biswalb, James T. Handaa. Cigarette smoking, oxidative stress, the anti-oxidant response through Nrf2 signaling, and Age-related Macular Degeneration. Vision Research
Volume 50, Issue 7, 31 March 2010, Pages 652–664
[ii] J F Donohue. Ageing, smoking and oxidative stress. Thorax. 2006 Jun; 61(6): 461–462.
[iii] Toshikazu YOSHIKAWA and Yuji NAITO. What Is Oxidative Stress?. JMAJ 45(7): 271–276, 2002.
[iv] Betteridge DJ. What is oxidative stress?. Metabolism. 2000 Feb;49(2 Suppl 1):3-8.
[v] Brooks M. Hybertsona, b, Bifeng Gaoa, Swapan K. Bosea, Joe M. McCord. Oxidative stress in health and disease: The therapeutic potential of Nrf2 activation. Molecular Aspects of Medicine
Volume 32, Issues 4–6, August–December 2011, Pages 234–246.
[vi] Nagai K, Betsuyaku T, Kondo T, Nasuhara Y, Nishimura M. Long term smoking with age builds up excessive oxidative stress in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Thorax. 2006 Jun;61(6):496-502. Epub 2006 Mar 14.
[vii] Isik B, Ceylan A, Isik R. Oxidative stress in smokers and non-smokers. Inhal Toxicol. 2007 Jul;19(9):767-9.
[viii] Simone Reuter, Subash C. Gupta, Madan M. Chaturvedi, and Bharat B. Aggarwal. Oxidative stress, inflammation, and cancer: How are they linked?. Free Radic Biol Med. 2010 Dec 1; 49(11): 1603–1616.
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