Quitting smoking now may do more than just prevent further damage to your lungs — it could jumpstart the release of healthy cells that actually repair the linings of your airways.
The lungs of ex-smokers contained up to four times as many genetically healthy cells than those of current smokers. The Sanger Institute / UCL<p>"People who have smoked heavily for 30, 40 or more years often say to me that it's too late to stop smoking - the damage is already done," joint senior author Dr. Peter Campbell, of the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said in <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-01/cru-ntl012820.php" target="_blank">a press statement</a>.</p> <p>"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."</p> <p>Smoking causes up to 10,000 extra mutations in nine out of every 10 lung cells, the researchers found, including many that cause cancer. But in the former smokers the researchers examined, there were four times as many healthy cells, with up to 40 percent of their lung cells appearing no different than those in someone who has never smoked, <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/health-51279355" target="_blank">BBC News reported</a>.</p><p>"There is a population of cells that, kind of, magically replenish the lining of the airways," Campbell said <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/health-51279355" target="_blank">according to BBC News</a>.</p> <p>For the study, the researchers took lung biopsies from 16 people, including adults and children. Among them were current and former smokers, as well as those who were never smokers. They then sequenced the DNA of 632 non-cancerous cells from the samples and analyzed the patterns of mutations, the <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7945499/Giving-smoking-spark-growth-healthy-cells-reverse-damage-nicotine.html" target="_blank">Daily Mail reported</a>.</p>
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