Lungs have a ‘magical ability’ to get rid of cancerous cells caused by smoking once you give up, scientists say
- Some cells ‘magically replenish the lining of the airways’, says Sanger Institute
- Lungs have the ‘magical’ ability to replace cancerous mutations, research says
- The study included people smoking more than 15,000 packs of cigarettes
- It shows ‘it’s never too late to quit’, according to its author Dr Peter Campbell
Lungs have the ‘magical’ ability to replace cancerous mutations caused by smoking with healthy cells – if you kick the habit, scientists say.
Researchers found that, compared with current smokers, those who gave up had more ‘genetically healthy’ lung cells.
The researchers, from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and University College London, have a much lower risk of developing into cancer and highlight the benefits of stopping smoking completely.
Lungs have a ‘magical’ ability to replace cancerous mutations caused by smoking with healthy cells, according to a study from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and University College London. There is a population of cells which ‘magically replenish’ the airways
Dr Peter Campbell of the Sanger Institute, senior author of the study, said: ‘There is a population of cells that, kind of, magically replenish the lining of the airways.’
He added: ‘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 smoked more than 15,000 packs of cigarettes over their life…’
Around 72 per cent of the 47,000 annual lung cancer (file image) cases in Britain are caused by smoking, estimates suggest. The disease accounts for nearly 21 per cent of all cancer deaths, according Cancer Research UK figures
Estimates suggest around 72 per cent of the 47,000 annual lung cancer cases in Britain are caused by smoking. The disease accounts for nearly 21 per cent of all cancer deaths, according Cancer Research UK figures. In the study, published in the journal Nature, the researchers took lung biopsies from 16 people including smokers, ex-smokers, those who had never smoked, and children.
They found that more than nine in every ten lung cells in current smokers had up to 10,000 extra genetic mutations caused by tobacco-related chemicals, compared with non-smokers.
More than a quarter of the damaged cells had at least one cancer-driver mutation. But in ex-smokers they found ‘a sizeable group of cells’ that had ‘escaped’ genetic damage from past smoking. Genetically, these cells were equal to those from people who had never smoked.