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Asthmatics' Lungs Get Quick Boost From Quitting Smoking

Breathing capacity improves 15 percent in just two months, study finds

FRIDAY, July 14, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Smokers with asthma who kick the habit can achieve a more than 15 percent improvement in lung function tests in less than two months, U.K. researchers report.

The study included 21 asthmatic smokers, aged 18 to 60, who had initial lung function score results of less than 85 percent of their predicted level. For the study, 10 of the participants quit smoking for 10 weeks, and the 11 others continued to smoke.

Even after just one week of no cigarettes, the lung function test results of the nonsmokers improved to a "considerable degree," the study found.

"The improvement in lung function seen after smoking cessation was clinically significant. It demonstrates that there is a reversible component to the harmful effects of smoking on the airways in asthma," researcher Dr. Neil C. Thomson, of the departments of respiratory medicine and immunology at the University of Glasgow, said in a prepared statement.

"The degree of improvement noted for smoking cessation far exceeds that of high-dose anti-inflammatory treatment, such as oral prednisolone, 40 milligrams daily for two weeks, which had no effect on lung function in smokers in our current study and in our previous work," he said.

"The improvement (in the asthmatics who quit smoking) could be due to the removal of the acute bronchoconstrictor effects of cigarette smoke or a reduction in the proinflammatory effects of cigarette smoke on the airways," Thomson said.

The findings are published in the July issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about asthma.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, July 14, 2006
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