It’s rare indeed, but it is possible that healthy smokers have mutant lungs that prevents them from developing smoking-related diseases and offers an extra protection against the unhealthy vice.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the 3rd leading cause of death worldwide
- 3 million people die only in the United Kingdom due to COPD
- The study was conducted on 50,000 participants, examining 800,000 genetic variants per person
- Researchers linked six genetic variants to lung health and smoking behavior
Researchers from the United Kingdom have conducted a careful and well examined study into the matter of DNA-enhanced lung protection possibly existent in human genomes. They essentially studied the matter if there is something within our genes that might protect us or make us more prone to certain conditions.
They tackled the issue of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a common effect of smoking and one of the lead causes in premature deaths worldwide. It causes coughing and lack of breath after minimal effort, affecting numerous people worldwide.
They studied over 50,000 participants part of the UK Biobank, separating the users with the best, average or poorest lung function and capacity between heavy smokers and non-smokers. They were able to advance their studies to incredible depths, investigating around 800,000 genetic variants in each participant.
They compared the link of common or rare genetic variants to lung health and smoking behavior, clearly determining that diversity among human genome can predict how cigarettes will impact health. Their hopes were to develop new solutions to the common problems associated with the vice, along with possible better treatments.
Researchers found a number of 6 different variants that they could connect to lung health and COPD. In fact, they found genetic variants associated with COPD that affected the health of participants even in never smokers, proving a predisposition to the disease in spite of not developing the actual bad habit.
It’s quite uncommon though, but certain variants within the human genome can indeed offer better protection to some against smoking-related diseases. For example, they found that the a certain number of copies of a duplicated sequence of a genome on Chromosome 17 were indeed connected to lung health.
The study has uncovered incredibly useful information that might be beneficial in the designing of novelty treatments for smokers or smoking-related conditions, according to Ian Hall from the University of Nottingham and co-author of the study. It could prove to be the tool that paves the way into new preventive measures and tests to indicate a predisposition to COPD.
Of course though, not smoking is still the best option to avoid the disease. No matter how much DNA helps secure the health of tobacco smokers, they still have to do their part by avoiding cigarettes altogether.
According to co-author of the study, Martin Tobin from the University of Leicester, there is no “magic bullet” to guarantee protection. Their lungs would be uncommonly healthy in spite of their vices, but they’re still unhealthier than those of a non-smoker.
Image source: self.com