Cigarette smoking is associated with a long list of medical ailments. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking is responsible for 90 percent of lung cancer deaths as well as over 80 percent of deaths related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. New research from the German Research Center for Environmental Health may be able to illuminate how cigarette smoke causes these problems.
What the research shows
Researchers previously learned that the receptor molecule Frizzled 4 is responsible for triggering new cell regeneration on the surface of the lung. They were curious to investigate how Frizzled 4 behaved when exposed to cigarette smoke. This experiment compared lung tissue samples of smokers and non-smokers. The researchers discovered that tissue that came in contact with cigarette smoke halted new cell growth.
"[I]f the cells are exposed to cigarette smoke, Frizzled 4 disappears from the surface and cell growth comes to a halt," Dr. Melanie Königshoff explained to Science Daily.
Fewer Frizzled 4 receptors lead to other changes within the cells as well. Critical proteins needed for lung elasticity - which allows lungs to expand and contract, ultimately letting an individual breathe - were found in fewer numbers. These proteins include elastin and fibulin, which help lungs stay elastic. Without these proteins, patients may suffer from shortness of breath or wheezing.
Causes and Treatments for COPD
Smoking is the No. 1 cause of COPD. According to the American Lung Association, female smokers are 13 times more likely to die from COPD than those who are non-smokers, while male smokers see 12 times higher risk of death. However, the site noted there are other risk factors for this disease, including air pollution and working with dangerous chemicals.
There is presently no cure for COPD. As researchers continue to investigate treatments, they advise that individuals avoid cigarette smoke in all capacities - as secondhand smoke can prove just as detrimental as firsthand. Patients suffering from COPD may require additional assistance to manage their disease - and Interim Healthcare can help. Home care givers can set medication reminders along with providing oxygen therapy. Caregivers can also strive to remove any irritants, such as dust, perfumes or smoke, that could worsen COPD symptoms inside the home to make their patients more comfortable. To learn more, reach out to Interim Healthcare today.