It is common knowledge that smoking cigarettes can greatly increase your risk of developing multiple types of cancer and other diseases.

New research has revealed how the chemicals inside the cigarettes you smoke are damaging your organs, even in parts of your body that do not come into direct contact with the inhaled smoke.

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute’s study looked at the number of cigarettes smoked in a lifetime, and compared this to the number of mutations found in the DNA of the individual’s tumour.  They studied over 5,000 tumours, comparing the cancer tumours of smokers to the cancers from people who had never smoked.

Smoking cigarettes has been proven to cause cell mutations, which is the cause of cancerous tumour growth. Although lung cancer saw the highest mutation rates, there was evidence of tumours in other areas of the body containing the same smoking-related mutations.

The study revealed that if you smoke one packet of cigarettes a day you will develop, on average, an extra 150 extra mutations in your lungs each year – this explains why smokers are at a so much higher risk of developing lung cancer than their non-smoking counterparts. Not only this, but smoking was also shown to cause 97 mutations in each cell of the larynx, 23 mutations in the mouth, 39 mutations in the pharynx, 18 mutations in the bladder, and six mutations in every cell of the liver per annum.

Although the majority of cell mutations were caused by direct contact with the carcinogens found in cigarette smoke, the study showed that cigarettes were capable of causing indirect damage to other organs by affecting mechanisms within the body that then lead to DNA mutations in other organs of the body.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month – If you or someone you know has been affected by lung cancer, you can get support and help from charities including MacMillan Cancer Support.