Health scare of the week
Smokers who quit never fully recover from the damage cigarettes have wrought, says a new study. When a smoker quits, risks of heart disease and stroke drop significantly. "You are reducing the risk of disease by quitting," cancer biologist Raj C
Smokers who quit never fully recover from the damage cigarettes have wrought, says a new study. When a smoker quits, risks of heart disease and stroke drop significantly. "You are reducing the risk of disease by quitting," cancer biologist Raj Chari tells Nature. "But it isn't going back to zero." That's because DNA in the tissue of the lungs is forever changed by cigarette smoke. When Chari and his team scraped tissue from the airways of nonsmokers, current smokers, and former smokers, they found that some of the lung-cell DNA that had been mutated by smoking was back to normal in the former smokers. But 124 other genes, some of which have been linked to lung cancer and emphysema, hadn't repaired themselves. These genes are the reason heavy smokers can develop lung disease and cancer even decades after they've quit. "Cells in the airway appear to have changes at a molecular level that persist many years after quitting," says lung specialist Avrum Spira.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
MOST POPULAR ON THE WEEK
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why I'm a pro-life liberal
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Why we can't stop procrastinating, according to science
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- How Ukraine can fend off the Russians, in 7 simple steps
- How to flirt, according to science
- Game of Thrones recap: 'The Lion and the Rose'
- How to be more satisfied with your life, according to science
Subscribe to the Week