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Benefits when heavy smokers quit

Quitting smoking improves health and lowers odds of developing lung cancer. But a new study shows that even among smokers with a genetic predisposition to smoking heavily and developing young cancer at a young age, the benefits of quitting are significant. An international study led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Siteman Cancer Center indicates that in these high-risk smokers, quitting cuts lung cancer risk in half and delays the age at which the disease is diagnosed.

AN INTERNATIONAL STUDY, LED BY RESEARCHERS AT WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE IN ST. LOUIS AND THE SITEMAN CANCER CENTER, SHOWS THAT QUITTING SMOKING IMPROVES HEALTH AND LOWERS THE ODDS OF DEVELOPING LUNG CANCER, EVEN AMONG SMOKERS WHO ARE GENETICALLY PREDISPOSED TO SMOKE HEAVILY AND TO DEVELOP CANCER AT A YOUNGER AGE. JIM DRYDEN HAS THE STORY…

THE NEW FINDINGS SUGGEST THAT DOCTORS MIGHT WANT TO REQUEST DNA ANALYSIS FROM SMOKERS IN ORDER TO EMPLOY THE MOST EFFECTIVE THERAPIES TO HELP THEM QUIT, BUT THERE’S NO DOUBT, SAYS WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY RESEARCHER LI-SHIUN CHEN, THAT KICKING THE SMOKING HABIT CAN CUT CANCER RISK, EVEN IN SMOKERS WHO HAVE A GENETIC PROFILE THAT PUTS THEM AT RISK FOR HEAVY SMOKING AND FOR DEVELOPING LUNG CANCER FOUR YEARS EARLIER THAN SMOKERS WHO DON’T HAVE THAT GENETIC BURDEN. CHEN SAYS DOCTORS ALWAYS ADVISE SMOKERS THAT THEY SHOULD QUIT…

(act) :15 o/c risk anyway

The question is that quitting smoking, does that reverse the

genetic risk? Because one can argue that, “Well, I have the

high genetic risk for lung cancer. It’s too late for me to

quit. There’s no use. Why should I quit? I have high risk anyway.”

BUT, STUDYING DATA FROM MORE THAN 12,000 CURRENT AND FORMER SMOKERS, CHEN AND HER COLLEAGUES FOUND THAT QUITTING SMOKING BENEFITS BOTH THOSE AT ELEVATED GENETIC RISK, AND THOSE SMOKERS WHO DON’T HAVE SUCH A RISKY GENE PROFILE. BUT SHE SAYS THE SMOKERS WHO HAVE GENE VARIANTS THAT INCREASE THEIR RISK GET PARTICULAR HEALTH BENEFITS IF THEY CAN MANAGE TO QUIT.

(act) :14 o/c 7 years

Quitting smoking cut the risk of lung cancer in half. And

the second finding is that for those who get lung cancer,

quitting smoking delays the cancer diagnosis by 7 years.

PERHAPS EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY, CHEN’S TEAM FOUND THAT THERE WERE BENEFITS BOTH FOR SMOKERS WITH AN ELEVATED RISK AND FOR THOSE WITHOUT THAT RISK.

(act) :18 o/c genetic risks

This is the first time that we’ve quantified the benefits of

quitting — delays cancer by 7 years — versus the genetic risk

that accelerates cancer by 4 years. We find that these benefits

of quitting are no different for people with high versus low

genetic risks.

SO CHEN SAYS THE FINDINGS DEMONSTRATE THAT A SMOKER’S GENES AREN’T THE ONLY THINGS DETERMINING WHETHER THAT INDIVIDUAL WILL DEVELOP LUNG CANCER.

(act) :15 o/c my fate

Some people believe that genes determine everything, so

there’s no use for me to promote my own health behavior.

And this is a study to really, directly fight the myth of

there’s no use. My genes determine my fate.

IN ADDITION, CHEN’S TEAM ALREADY HAD LEARNED IN A PAST STUDY THAT SMOKERS WITH ELEVATED GENETIC RISKS ARE MORE LIKELY TO RESPOND TO NICOTINE-REPLACEMENT THERAPY. SO SHE SAYS DOCTORS MAY WANT TO TAKE A LOOK AT THE DNA OF SMOKERS WHO WANT TO QUIT, IN ORDER TO TAILOR PRECISE TREATMENTS BASED ON AN INDIVIDUAL PATIENT’S RISKS.

(act) :23 o/c more precise

Another important concept that’s brought forward by the

National Cancer Institute is called “precision prevention.”

In the field of medicine, we give all kinds of medical advice.

You should quit smoking. You should eat healthy. You should

exercise. So, we’re stepping into the era where the health

advice can be personalized and be more precise.

HER TEAM REPORTED ITS FINDINGS ONLINE IN THE JOURNAL eBioMedicine. I’M JIM DRYDEN…

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