Smoking is a risk factor for many diseases, especially lung cancer. Abandoning the bad habit, of course, will reduce the likelihood of developing this disease, but the damage done to the respiratory organs will remain irreparable. That’s what it was like until now.
However, in a new study, researchers from the UK and Japan have found that the human lungs are able to repair the damage caused by smoking. Thus, the risk of oncology is reduced even more. But there is one condition: it will have to overcome tobacco dependence.
It is worth explaining that tobacco smoke is a genotoxin, that is, damages DNA in the cells of the lungs. This causes genetic errors, including mutations that allow cells to divide uncontrollably and become malignant.
To collect more data on cancer risk, the scientists biopsy 16 volunteers’ lungs. They included smokers, ex-smokers, never-smokers, and children. Experts studied the present genetic changes.
In nine out of ten “acting” smokers’ cells, scientists found up to ten thousand mutations caused by chemicals from tobacco smoke. And more than a quarter of the damaged cells had at least one mutation that could trigger the development of cancer. These changes are called mini-bombs in slow motion.
Meanwhile, in the airways of people who quit smoking, the researchers were surprised to find many cells that were undamaged. By genetic standards, they were no different from the cells of participants who had never smoked.
It is noted that ex-smokers had four times more healthy cells than “acting” smokers. According to the scientists, the cells that escaped the damage seemed to “exist in a nuclear bunker”. It is not yet clear exactly how they remained unscathed.