Why don’t all smokers get lung cancer? The mystery could be solved

Why don't all smokers get lung cancer?  The mystery could be solved

It’s no secret that a smoker is much more likely to develop lung cancer than someone who has never had a cigarette in their life. Surely you have already given this argument to one of your loved ones to motivate him to quit smoking and quit his cigarette for good … And this person may have told you that he knew someone who had smoked all his life without his cancer . And it’s true: 80 to 90% of smokers do not develop lung cancer. How to explain this phenomenon, at least strange?

This is a question asked by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. In a new study, they question factors that may explain the fact that some people who have smoked much of their lives will never develop lung cancer.

According to scientists, it is genetics that provides part of the answer. Smokers who never develop cancer would be at an advantage: the cells that line their lungs seem less likely to mutate over time. The results suggest that DNA repair genes are more active in some individuals, which may protect against cancer, even with regular cigarette smoking.

For the study, the researchers used genetic profiles taken from the bronchi of 14 never-smokers and 19 light, medium and heavy smokers.

“These lung cells survive for years, even decades, and therefore can accumulate mutations with both age and smoking.” explains epidemiologist and pulmonologist Simon Spivack of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “Of all the lung cell types, these are the ones most likely to become cancerous. “says about surface cells taken from study participants.

For the authors, these results “clearly” demonstrate that mutations in the human lungs increase with age. In smokers, the DNA damage is even greater. But not everyone is on the same ship: if the amount of tobacco consumed is associated with an increase in the number of cell mutations, this risk peaks after approximately 23 years of consuming one package a day.

“The heaviest smokers did not have the highest mutation load”says pulmonologist Simon Spivack. “Our data suggests that these people have been able to survive so long despite heavy smoking because they have been able to suppress the accumulation of new mutations. This attenuation of mutations can be explained by the fact that these people have very effective systems for repairing DNA damage.” or to detoxify cigarette smoke. “

Thanks to this study, the researchers hope to be able to develop a new tool for assessing the risk of lung cancer. “We now want to develop new tests that can measure a person’s ability to repair DNA or detoxify it, which could offer a new way to assess lung cancer risk.”says geneticist Jan Vijg.

“This may prove to be an important step in the prevention and early detection of lung cancer risk and a departure from the current Herculean efforts needed to address the late stages of the disease, where most health care and suffering are incurred.”says pulmonologist Simon Spivack.

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