Reverse damage from smoking just by quitting: The body has a remarkable ability to heal itself

A recent study published in the American Chemical Society‘s Journal of Proteome Research reveals that quitting cigarette smoking may still reverse the damage done by years of tobacco use.

A 2013 study once suggested that changes in metabolic profiles a few months after quitting smoking may speed up the recuperation process among smokers and may lead to such as improved lung function and reduced odds of cardiovascular diseases.

Basing on the same study, a team of researchers regularly obtained blood, urine, and saliva samples from male volunteers who were trying to stay off smoking for up to three months after quitting. The research team also monitored the participant’s diets and measured their carbon monoxide and cotinine levels. The scientists were able to identify up to 52 metabolites that were significantly altered following the participants’ smoking cessation. Likewise, the health experts observed a few metabolites that exhibited reversible changes that were comparable to that of a nonsmoker’s metabolic profile.

“Several metabolic pathways were found to be altered in a first clinical study comparing smokers against nonsmokers. In agreement with a previous study comparing smokers and nonsmokers, the fatty acid and amino acid metabolism showed significant alterations upon three months of smoking cessation. Thus these results may indicate a partial recovery of metabolic pathway perturbations, even after a relatively short period of smoking cessation,” the researchers wrote online.

A glimmer of hope for the worsening tobacco use worldwide

The recent findings may shed some positive light on statistics showing an overwhelming number of people who smoke tobacco on a daily basis.

A study published in April this year revealed that more than 993 million people worldwide smoked everyday in 2015 alone. According to the study, more than 82 percent of these smokers were men. (Related: Still haven’t quit smoking? Time to go for a run, according to new study.)

The study also revealed that the top ten countries with the largest number of smokers together made up nearly 64 percent of the total number of daily smokers worldwide. China, India, Indonesia and three other leading countries accounted for more than  half of the world’s male smokers in 2015.

On the other hand, U.S., China, and India accounted for a little more than 27 percent of the total number of female smokers around the world in 2015. The results also showed that smoking among female adolescents aged 15 to 19 was notably high in 22 countries. Likewise, the prevalence of adolescent male smokers was concentrated in up to 24 countries.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also revealed that smoking remains to be the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S. According to the federal agency, smoking accounted for more than 480,000 deaths annually.

The CDC also noted that 36.5 million adults in the U.S. currently smoke cigarettes, while more than 16 million Americans already have smoking-related conditions. The data also showed that smoking was most prevalent among non-Hispanic American Indians, Alaska Natives, and people of multiple races.

“Despite more than half a century of unequivocal evidence of the harmful effects of tobacco on health in 2015, one in every four men in the world was a daily smoker. Prevalence has been, and remains, significantly lower in women—roughly one in every 20 women smoked daily in 2015 … Specifically, the age-standardised global prevalence of daily smoking fell … Yet amid these gains, many countries with persistently high levels of daily smoking recorded marginal progress since 2005, and smoking remained among the leading risk factors for early death and disability in more than 100 countries in 2015 … Smoking patterns diverged by geography, level of development, sex, and birth cohort, emphasising the need for tailored approaches to change smoking behaviours,” the experts stated in The Lancet.

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