A new study has shown that smokers whose lung cells have been damaged could be healed ‘magically’ if they can quit smoking.
According to the study published in the Nature journal on Wednesday, healthy cells in the lungs are capable of repairing the badly affected ones should smokers part way with smoking.
To arrive at the findings, the study used lung biopsies from 16 people, including current smokers, ex-smokers, adults who had never smoked and children, looking for the mutations that can lead to cancer.
The results showed that while majority of cells in smokers are often mutated by tobacco, few of them– exist in a nuclear bunker — can repair the damaged ones.
The study showed up to 40 percent of cells of smokers who quit smoking end up looking healthy as though they have never come in contact with tobacco.
Rachel Orritt from Cancer Research UK said the study results could be a huge motivation for smokers, who appeared to be struggling to quit smoking for years.
“It’s a really motivating idea that people who stop smoking might reap the benefits twice over – by preventing more tobacco-related damage to lung cells, and by giving their lungs the chance to balance out some of the existing damage with healthier cells,” she said.
Peter Campbell, from the Sanger Institute, also commended the novelty of the research, noting its findings came out of the blue to many people. “We were totally unprepared for the finding,” he told BBC. “There is a population of cells that, kind of, magically replenish the lining of the airways.
“One of the remarkable things was patients who had quit, even after 40 years of smoking, had regeneration of cells that were totally unscathed by the exposure to tobacco.”
The new study further corroborates with findings of previous studies which revealed smokers significantly reduced their chances of having lung cancer the day they quit smoking.