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Do You Know Your Lung Age?

06/30/2009 - News

Do You Know Your Lung Age?

By: June Chen, MD

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According to the World Health Organization, smoking kills about 4 million people every year. The physical and psychological addiction associated with tobacco makes quitting a challenge for many smokers, despite the availability of nicotine patches, gums, and other cessation aids or services.

According to a recent study of smokers in London published in the British Medical Journal , telling long-term smokers their 'lung age' helped them to quit the habit.

What exactly is lung age? Simply put, your lung age is the age of an average healthy person with lung function that is similar to yours. It's measured by a simple test called spirometry, which records the volume and rate at which air is exhaled from the lungs. In this study of over 500 long-time smokers over the age of 35, the smokers who were given their lung age and shown a diagram of the aging effects of smoking on the lungs were more likely to quit.

If these results could be reproduced in even larger studies, telling smokers their 'lung age,' combined with encouraging and supporting them to quit, could represent an inexpensive way to reduce smoking-related health problems, such as emphysema, lung cancer, and heart disease. As an added benefit, screening for lung age may contribute to earlier diagnosis of lung disease, leading to earlier treatment and better outcomes.

Source

British Medical Journal. 2008 Mar 15;336(7644):598-600.

Created on: 03/20/2008
Reviewed on: 06/30/2009

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