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Heavy Smoking Depletes Protective B Vitamins

Chronic cigarette smokers have twice the genetic damage to buccal mucosal cells as nonsmokers

FRIDAY, April 14 (HealthDay News) -- Heavy cigarette smoking depletes B vitamins in the bodies of smokers, decreasing the protective effect against genetic damage, according to research published in the April issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Joel Mason, M.D., of Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, and colleagues compared folate metabolites and signs of genetic damage in 35 healthy smokers and 21 matched nonsmokers.

Smokers had 20 percent lower levels of folate in plasma, 32 percent lower levels in erythrocytes, and half the levels in buccal mucosal cells as the nonsmokers. The smokers also had lower levels of vitamin B-12 and pyridoxal 5'-phosphate than the nonsmokers. A marker of genetic damage, the buccal mucosal cell micronucleus index, was twice as high in the smokers as nonsmokers.

"Chronic smoking is associated with a lower systemic status of several B vitamins, reduced oral folate, and changes in folate form distribution in the mouth," the authors write. "However, the cytologic damage that is evident in the mouths of smokers does not correlate with oral folate status."

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