Smokers, it’s never too late! Study shows how quitters can surpass cancer, reverse lung damage

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Smoking too often and worried about your health? Not to worry, your lungs can magically heal itself once you quit. According to a new study, human lungs produce new healthy cells which replace some of their tobacco-damaged and cancer-prone cells once someone kicks his or her habit of smoking. For a long time now, with advertisements even on cigarette packets, smokers and tobacco chewers have been told how they are prone to developing ailments like lung cancer, mouth cancer, etc.

However, this new study published on Thursday in the journal Nature had said that smokers’ risk of developing lung cancer will fall if they can quit. Also, quitting to smoke can prevent the body from developing new damages. The study extensively talks about the benefits of quitting smoking, giving new hope to smokers who wish to quit. As quoted by AFP, Peter Campbell of the Wellcome Sanger Institute who is also joint senior author to the study, said that people who have smoked for over 40 years or more often tell him how they think it is too late for them to quit as the damage was already done. But the study says just the opposite, it is never to late to quit smoking!

How healthy cells emerge

The study examined biopsies of 16 people’s lungs including current smokers, former smokers and those who have never smoked in their lives. Many mutations in the body are a part of ageing and are hence harmless. However, a mutation in the wrong gene in the wrong cell can lead to the cells becoming cancerous. If enough of these cells accumulate then they can become full-blown cancer, as per the study.

The study found that nine out ten lung cells in current smokers had these dangerous mutations, ones that can cause cancer. But, in non-smokers, it was found that many of these damaged cells had been replaced by new healthy ones just like those in non-smokers. About 40 per cent of the lung cells in ex-smokers were found to he healthy, four times more than those who are current smokers.

The exact mechanism of the replacement of damaged lung cells is not yet clear. However, the authors of the study believe that there may be a sort of reservoir of cells in the human body, which await their chances to emerge.

The precise mechanism by which that replacement occurs is not yet clear, but the study’s authors believe there may be a sort of reservoir of cells, waiting for a chance to emerge. According to Campbell, the need of the hour is to locate the reservoir of healthy cells in the body and to understand how they replace the damaged ones.

So, why pave a way for the damage to happen further? Instead, quit today and make your life safer than it currently is.