Australian Study Finds Possible Treatment to Make Smoking Healthier for Lungs

But scientists warn that the treatment does nothing to prevent cancer risks, and that it's thus far limited to mice who smoke

Smoking Lungs

OK, you get the ideaADESF

Smokers might get a future reprieve on the damage that cigarettes do to their lungs. Australian scientists have successfully protected mice lungs against the inflammatory effects of smoking, which can lead to health problems such as emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). But the researchers still gave stern warning that this does nothing to alleviate cancer risks, The Register reports.

The mouse treatment works by blocking Granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) -- an agent in the lungs that causes inflammatory white blood cells to activate in response to cigarette smoke. Melbourne University researchers gave the anti-GM-CSF agent to half of a group of mice, and then dosed the entire lot with the equivalent of nine cigarettes of smoke daily for four days straight.

When the research group cut open the mice to examine their lungs, they found that the treatment had significantly cut down on lung inflammation.

Smokers might want to take a few grains of salt on this study before they start lighting up a celebratory stick. This study only worked in mice, and we're still a long ways off from any possible human treatment.

The scientists themselves also note that quitting still represents the best cure-all for what ails smokers, and that this approach does not do anything to reduce the risk of cancer -- but maybe hideous mole rats could eventually lead to a cancer cure.

Green-conscious folk might also consider that cigarettes have a not-inconsiderable impact on the environment.

Fortunately, worried smokers can already get themselves checked out for possible lung cancer, and might even consider using electronic cigs to kick the habit.