Your lungs have such ‘astounding’ potential that they can repair the damage caused by smoking but you will have to quit smoking.
Changes in lung cells lead to cancer. So far, scientists have believed that the harm caused by smoking can not be prevented even if you quit smoking.
However, a recent study published in the scientific journal Nature reveals that damaged lung cells are capable of repairing damaged lungs, even if smoking is discontinued.
Researchers have researched patients who continued to drink at least one packet of cigarettes every day for forty years.
Tobacco contains many elements that are thought to be responsible for the alteration of lung cells. Gradually, these changes move healthy cells to the position they are in when cancer develops.
Many cells have undergone this change in the pre-cancerous phase of smoking. Cells were taken from the lungs of a smoker who underwent about ten thousand genetic changes due to tobacco use.
“These cells should be thought of as a small time bomb, ready to wait for the next step towards cancer,” said Dr Kate Gorse, a researcher at the University College London, UK.
But there are some cells in the lungs that are not affected by smoking.
It’s unclear how they managed to keep themselves safe while smoking, he said.
However, when a person quits smoking, these healthy cells begin to grow in number and replace the affected cells in the lungs.
For those who have quit smoking, about forty percent of the lungs in their lungs are like people who have never smoked.
Dr Peter Campbell of the UK Sanger Institute said his team was not expecting such results.
“There are a number of healthy cells in the lungs that magically repair the lungs,” he said.
What is remarkable is that the healthy cells in the lungs of people who have quit after smoking for forty years have created new healthy cells in place of smokers.
Smoking cessation encouraged
Researchers are currently conducting further research to determine how much of the affected lung can recover.
There are 47,000 cases of lung cancer in the UK each year. About three quarters of these cases are attributed to smoking.
Scientists have previously reported that the risk of lung cancer decreases from the day a person quits smoking.
The reason for this has been that till now, smoking cessation does not cause any further damage to the lungs.
“It’s encouraging that people who quit smoking today can benefit in two ways,” said Dr Rachel Oret, of Cancer Research UK. The first is to protect the lungs from further damage from tobacco and the second to give your lungs the opportunity to repair the damage they have done so far. ‘