A new study proves for the first time that smokers who quit wind up with healthier lungs, no matter how long they have smoked, researchers said Tuesday.
The study involved more than 5,800 smokers who were victims of chronic obstructive lung disease, a combination of emphysema and bronchitis that is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
"This is the first time we've seen proof that if you stop smoking at any age, you will have healthier lungs," said Dr. William Conway, a senior staff physician at Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital who was one of the researchers.
"It is the largest study ever conducted on the prevention of lung disease," he said. "It shows without a doubt that quitting smoking is the most effective way of preventing lung function decline due to emphysema and chronic bronchitis." The study was coordinated by the University of Manitoba and involved 10 sites in the United States, including UCLA, and Canada. It was published today in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.
The results "give the strongest evidence to date that smoking cessation results in substantial benefit to lung function," the report said.