It may not be a secret that smoking causes serious damage to your lungs, but that doesn’t make it any easier for people to kick that habit. Especially if you’ve been smoking heavily for years or even decades, it may seem pointless to try and quit now.
However, new research out of the UK begs the differ. In a new study published in Nature, your lungs have an almost “magical” ability to repair the cancerous mutations caused by smoking—but only if you truly stop smoking.
As reported in the BBC, the overwhelming majority of cells taken from a smoker’s airways are mutated by tobacco, with cells containing up to 10,000 genetic alterations. But a small proportion of cells seem to go unscathed as if they “exist in a nuclear bunker”. The researchers found that the few cells that do escape damage from cigarette smoking have the ability to replace damaged cells in the lungs.
The effect was even seen in patients who had smoked a pack a day for 40 years before giving up. The big takeaway from this groundbreaking study is that it’s never too late to stop smoking cigarettes.