The Threat of Cigarettes on Cell Growth
Simrit Dhillon, Amanda Chan
Stratford Hall
Floor Location : M 070 H

Abstract: The Effect of Tobacco on the Cell Regeneration of Planaria

By: Simrit Dhillon and Amanda Chan

As of 2014, close to one billion people have taken up the habit of smoking cigarettes (Roberts, 2014). Nearly 5.6 million of today's Americans younger than 18 years of age are projected to die prematurely from smoking-related illnesses (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). Nearly 6 million people die from tobacco use or exposure to secondhand smoke, accounting for 6 per cent of female and 12 per cent of male deaths worldwide every year (World Heart Federation). Large numbers of youth are either exposed to or create smoking emissions despite the life-threatening effects, including negative effect on the brain, pulmonary, and cardiovascular systems (Swan and Lessov-Schlaggar, 2007). Scientists have discovered evidence that smoking also destroys the neurons and glial cells in the brain and stops other brain cells from being produced (Learn Genetics and BBC News UK, 2002). This project falls under the category of health and the research question is an experiment.
The research question for this experiment is: how does tobacco burned for 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 9 minutes affect the growth of planaria? Invertebrates called planaria are a type of small flatworm that can regenerate parts of their body thanks to their amazing ability to reproduce stem cells. We measured the survival rate of planaria after 24 and 120 hours from being exposed to increasing amounts of cigarette smoke.
The results from this experiment support our hypothesis because as the burning time increased, the amount of planaria that survived decreased. Through this experiment, another important discovery was unintentionally made. The raw data also indicated that the closer the distance of the planaria to cigarette emissions, the larger the likelihood that the planaria will die. These important discoveries can help create awareness about the many dangers of smoking cigarettes. The longer that someone smokes a cigarette or the longer that they are exposed to secondhand smoking, the more at risk they are of negatively affecting their cell growth. Further inquiry about this experiment will include: how nicotine emissions affect the growth of planaria, and also eliminating the previously uncontrolled variable of distance in all the experiments. The results of this research will be presented at the Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair at UBC.