• Question: If someone stopped smoking would their lungs repair themselves? If they did how long would it take?

    Asked by brainypeely1998 to clairemarieroberts, Faye, Martin, Mus, Pete on 20 Apr 2012.
    • Photo: Pete Etchells

      Pete Etchells answered on 20 Apr 2012:

      Thanks for the question, brainypeely! I’m afraid that I don’t know too much on this subject, but I think that the answer depends on how long and how heavily the person smokes. The lungs will start to repair themselves as best they can fairly quickly after you stop smoking, but it depends upon how much damage has already been done as to how far the repair can go. Whilst lung functioning can increase by up to 30% in the first couple of weeks after smoking is stopped, some statistics suggest that it is only after 10 years of not smoking that the lung cancer death rates will match the levels of those in people who don’t smoke.

      The best bet is to never start smoking in the first place!

    • Photo: Martin Lindley

      Martin Lindley answered on 20 Apr 2012:

      Hi brainypeely

      I am afraid that once you reach adulthood smoking will irreversibly reduce your lung function 🙁

      As you age lung function declines.

      If you smoke if declines much much faster.

      If you stop smoking you will revert back to the slower decline of a non smoker but never regain lost function !

      So the message here is …dont smoke ! if you want to use your lungs when you are older !

    • Photo: Faye Didymus

      Faye Didymus answered on 20 Apr 2012:

      This is a great question brainypeely1998! Our lungs are an amazing organ but they can become damaged through things like smoking as you say. BUT…our lungs are very clever and they can begin to repair if we stop smoking. In fact, our lungs begin to try to repair themselves as soon as we stop smoking – they will begin to start clearing out bad stuff such as mucus and other smoking debris (nasty stuff like tar) straight away. Scientists think that after 3 months of quitting smoking, lung efficiency (so how well our lungs exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide) can increase by 5-10%. Also, after 10 years of stopping smoking, our chances of getting lung disease such as cancer is half that of a smoker. The flip side is that if someone smokes over a period of time, they may damage their lungs to a point where they cannot repair themselves. No matter how much they start to repair, they will never be able to regain all of the efficiency that they had before that person started smoking so the best thing to do is not to start smoking!
      If you know someone who smokes, you could tell them about this great website: http://smokefree.nhs.uk/?&gclid=CPCs6eHsw68CFWwntAodpHNMYg which is designed to help them quit. They even have an app for smart phones, which can help them to stop smoking!