ASH Daily News for 30 January 2020



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UK

  • Lung tissue of heavy smokers can return to normal after quitting, study suggests

International

  • US life expectancy rises for first time in four years
  • Australia: Grandmother’s bid to highlight cost of cigarettes compared with food goes viral

UK

Lung tissue of heavy smokers can return to normal after quitting, study suggests

According to a new study, people who have smoked heavily throughout life can still dramatically cut their risk of lung cancer by quitting, with scientists claiming the finding offers hope to long-term smokers.

The study from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and University College London found that compared to current smokers, people who had quit had more “genetically healthy” lung cells – with the organ growing new healthy cells to replenish the lining of their airways. The cells in turn were less likely to develop into cancer in the future.

The study, published in the journal Nature, saw researchers analyse lung biopsies from 16 people – a group that included smokers, ex-smokers, those who had never smoked, and children. The results showed that 9 out of every 10 lung cells in current smokers had up to 10,000 additional genetic mutations as a direct result of tobacco related chemicals compared to non-smokers.

In those who had quit smoking researchers discovered “a sizeable group of cells” lining the airways that had “escaped” genetic damage from cigarettes in the past. However researchers warned the risk of permanent damage deeper in the lung that can lead to chronic lung disease still remains.

Dr Peter Campbell, from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and senior author on the study, said: “People who have smoked heavily for 30, 40 or more years often say to me that it’s too late to stop smoking – the damage is already done. 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 had smoked more than 15,000 packs of cigarettes over their life, but within a few years of quitting many of the cells lining their airways showed no evidence of damage from tobacco.”

Source: Independent, 30 January 2020

See also:
Kenichi Yoshida and Kate Gowers et al. (2019). Tobacco exposure and somatic mutations in normal human bronchial epithelium. Nature.

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International

US life expectancy rises for first time in four years

Life expectancy in the United States is up for the first time in four years. The increase is small – just a month – but marks at least a temporary halt to a downward trend. The rise is due to lower death rates from cancers and drug overdoses.

The latest calculation is for 2018 and factors in current death trends and other issues. On average, an infant born in 2018 is expected to live about 78 years and 8 months, the CDC said. For males, it’s about 76 years and 2 months; for females 81 years and 1 month.

For decades, US life expectancy was on the up, rising a few months nearly every year. But from 2014 to 2017, it fell slightly or held steady. That was blamed largely on surges in overdose deaths and suicides.

Cancer is the nation’s No. 2 killer, causing about 600,000 deaths a year, so even slight changes in the cancer death rate can have a big impact. The rate of cancer deaths fell more than 2%, matching the drop in 2017. Most of the improvement is in lung cancer because of reductions in smoking rates and better treatments.

Source: Daily Mail, 29 January 2020

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Australia: Grandmother’s bid to highlight cost of cigarettes compared with food goes viral

A woman’s bid to teach her grandchildren about the “true cost of smoking” by comparing the price of a food shop with the cost of cigarettes has gone viral. Judy Lawson, from Tasmania, Australia, decided to test out how much food she could buy in a grocery store for the same price as a packet of a cigarettes.

She took on the challenge after one of her grandchildren shared their surprise at seeing a customer buying a packet of 40 cigarettes for $56.95 (roughly £29.56). In a bid to turn the incident into a teachable moment, the grandmother and her grandchildren set about spending an equivalent amount of money on basic food items. She then shared an image on Facebook, comparing the two.

Speaking to The Evening Standard, she said: “This was just a simple exercise to visually show my grandkids the true cost of smoking. I pray that this exercise will have an impact on them.

“A friend asked me to make it a public post so he could share it. I’m blown away at the amount of people that have shown interest. It was never my intention to condemn smokers, but if someone quits or never starts over this post, it was a good post.”

Source: Evening Standard, 29 January 2020

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