-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
TUESDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Smoking seems to have a
similar effect on the lungs as cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening
genetic disease affecting the lungs and other organs, a new study
Researchers found that like cystic fibrosis, smoking leads to
the production of sticky mucus that causes dry cough and
infections. They concluded that cystic fibrosis treatments could
potentially be used to treat smoking-related diseases -- and vice
Cystic fibrosis interferes with the movement of salt and water
in the cells lining the lungs, trapping bacteria in thick mucus,
resulting in potentially fatal infections. The researchers said
that smoking has a similar effect, resulting in mucus that causes
several health problems, including dry cough, chronic bronchitis
and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
"We hope this study will highlight the importance of airway hydration in terms of lung health and that it will help provide a road map for the development of novel therapies for the treatment of smoking-related lung disease," Robert Tarran, a researcher at the Cystic Fibrosis/Pulmonary Research and Treatment Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said in a Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) news release.
In conducting the study, published online Oct. 17 in the
FASEB Journal, researchers examined how cigarette smoke affects a protein that helps the lungs stay hydrated, known as CFTR. They found that smokers had a 60 percent drop in CFTR activity, compared to non-smokers.
The study also found cigarette smoke reduced the amount of
liquid covering lung cells -- an effect that lasted for at least
two and a half hours after exposure. Separate studies, the
researchers pointed out, showed this reduction was caused by
interference with CFTR activity.
The researchers also found that when lung cells exposed to
cigarette smoke were treated with hypertonic saline (a treatment
for cystic fibrosis), the amount of liquid covering them increased
to more normal levels and reduced the amount of mucus in the
The authors concluded that smokers and people with cystic
fibrosis may benefit from some of the same treatments. "But the
bottom line remains: The most effective treatment for smoker's
cough, or worse, is to quit smoking, now," added Dr. Gerald
Weissmann, editor-in-chief of the journal, in the release.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
health effects of smoking.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.