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Stopping Smoking Allows Healthy Lung Cells to Proliferate

Mar2020image008New research is adding to the strong suggestion that the benefits of quitting smoking are overwhelmingly positive, including preventing further damage to the lungs—increasing the proportion of healthy cells to damaged cells that could reduce the risk of lung cancer.

In a study published online January 29 in Nature, researchers conducted whole-genome sequencing on healthy airway cells collected from current smokers and ex-smokers, as well as from adult never-smokers and children. They found that the cells from current and ex-smokers had a far higher mutational burden than those of never-smokers and children, including an increased number of mutations that increase the potential of cells to become cancerous. They also found that in ex-smokers, as many as 40% of the cells were near normal, with less genetic damage and a low risk of developing cancer.

“What is so exciting about our study is that it shows that it's never too late to quit. Some of the people in our study had smoked more than 15,000 packs of cigarettes over their life, but within a few years of quitting, many of the cells lining their airways showed no evidence of damage from tobacco,” said Senior author Peter J. Campbell, Ph.D., Cancer Genome Project, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton, United Kingdom.

The study also sheds some light on how the protective effect of smoking cessation. Research says that stopping smoking at any age does not only slows the accumulation of further damage but could reawaken cells unharmed by past lifestyle choices.

For more information, visit Medscape.