Smoking cigarettes is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. However, why some lifelong smokers do not develop lung cancer? This question has always perplexed the scientific community. Well, a new study found an inherent advantage that the cells that line their lungs appear to be less likely to mutate over time.
The findings suggest that DNA repair genes are more active among some individuals, which can protect against cancers arising, even when cigarettes are regularly smoked.
The study made use of genetic profiles taken from the bronchi of 14 never-smokers and 19 light, moderate, and heavy smokers. Surface cells collected from the lungs of the participants were sequenced individually to measure mutations in their genomes.
According to the authors, the findings unequivocally demonstrate that mutations in the human lung increase with natural age, and among smokers, the DNA damage is even more significant. Tobacco smoke has long been associated with triggering DNA damage in the lung, but the new study found not all smokers are in the same boat.
The study noted that these people might have survived for so long in spite of their heavy smoking because they managed to suppress further mutation accumulation. This levelling off of mutations could stem from these people having very proficient systems for repairing DNA damage or detoxifying cigarette smoke
Genes concerned with DNA repair can be inherited or acquired, and the silencing of repair genes has been associated with tumour development in previous research. Genes aren’t the only factors influencing a person’s cancer risk. Environmental factors like diet can also influence nutrients in the body that impact tumor development What makes an individual’s body better at repairing DNA is still up for debate and is likely complicated, but the new findings suggest this process is closely tied to lung cancer development.