advertisement
18 July 2013

All smokers' lungs show abnormalities

Smokers whose lungs appear healthy may still have damaged airway cells, similar to cells found in aggressive lung cancer, a new study indicates.

0

Even if medical tests are normal, smokers whose lungs appear healthy may still have damaged airway cells with characteristics similar to cells found in aggressive lung cancer, a new study indicates.

Researchers analyzed cells that line the airway from healthy non-smokers and smokers with no detectable lung disease. The smokers' cells showed early signs of changes similar to those found in lung cancer.

"When you smoke a cigarette, some of the genetic programming of your lung cells is lost," senior investigator Dr Ronald Crystal, chairman and professor of genetic medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, said in a college news release.

"Your cells take on the appearance of a more primitive cell. It doesn't necessarily mean you will develop cancer, but that the soil is fertile to develop cancer," he explained.

The results of the study, published July 16 in the journal Stem Cell, show that smoking causes harm, even when there is no clinical evidence that anything is wrong.

Disordered cells

"The study doesn't say these people have cancer, but that the cells are already starting to lose control and become disordered," Crystal said. "The smoker thinks they are normal, and their doctor's exam is normal, but we know at the biologic level that all cigarette smokers' lungs are abnormal to some degree."

These very early changes can't be detected through physical examinations, lung function tests or X-rays. "The take-home message is: Don't smoke. Smoking is bad, and if you smoke, you're at risk," Crystal said.

Further research is needed to learn why smoking causes these changes. This could help scientists create treatments to prevent lung cancer.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about lung cancer prevention.

 
NEXT ON HEALTH24X
advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Are you sure? »

Aid your digestion What are digestive disorders?

Are you really constipated?

Many people think that if they do not have two or more bowel movements every single day of their lives they are constipated. This is patently not true, writes DietDoc.

True of False? »

SEE: How anaphylactic shock affects your body

Stop believing these 10 allergy myths

Do you still believe that hay fever is caused by hay? Or that food allergies are really common? No, and no again. We bust 10 myths about allergies.