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Cocaine and Ecstasy Cause DNA Mutation -Italy Study

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ROME (Reuters) - Cocaine and ecstasy not only cause addiction and raise the risk of cancer but also provoke genetic mutations, Italian scientists said on Friday.

"Cocaine and ecstasy have proved to be more dangerous than we had imagined," said Giorgio Bronzetti, chief scientist at the National Center for Research's (CNR) biotechnology department.

"These drugs, on top of their toxicological effects, attack DNA provoking mutations and altering the hereditary material. This is very worrying for the effects it could have on future generations," he said.

The use of ecstasy, a drug popular at all-night dance parties, increased by 70 percent between 1995 and 2000 according to a United Nations report published in September.

Ecstasy and amphetamines have overtaken cocaine and heroin as the fastest growing global narcotics menace, the study said.

The CNR report, which took more than three years to complete, said animal tests had shown a direct relationship between ecstasy and cocaine intake and the effects on DNA.

"In other words, the longer the time frame of drug consumption, the greater the damage to DNA," Bronzetti said.

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