Washington: Chain smokers take note. A new study has shown that smoking cigarettes affects the lungs in a way that is very similar to cystic fibrosis, a life threatening disease affecting the lungs and other organs.In cystic fibrosis, improper movement of salt and water in the cells lining the lungs causes a thick and sticky mucus to form. Bacteria become trapped in this mucus and thrive, leading to life-threatening lung infections.The new study shows that smoking negatively affects the lungs in a similar way, leading to mucus that causes dry cough, chronic bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, among other problems.“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,” said Robert Tarran, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Cystic Fibrosis/Pulmonary Research and Treatment Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.Tarran and colleagues conducted multiple experiments both in humans and in laboratory-grown cells testing the effects of cigarette smoke on the function of a protein that helps the lungs stay hydrated, called “CFTR.”They found that people exposed to cigarette smoke had a 60 percent decrease in CFTR activity, compared to those exposed only to clean air.
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