How old did you say you are? Really? You're sure? Well, if you're a smoker, the question of age may not be quite so simple. Put that ID away - there are other ways to calculate exactly hold old you really are.
Dr. Gary Parkes, a family physician in Hertfordshire, England, has a special interest in the impact smoking has on our lungs. He's devised a methodology to assess the relative "age" of smokers' lungs in comparison to non-smokers. The age is calculated through the use of a spirometric test to assess lung function. In this case, Dr. Parkes measured the rate at which smokers were able to exhale air from their lungs. Comparing this data to non-smokers allows for a relative age to be calculated.
For example, one 52-year-old participant was found to have a lung age equivalent to that of a 75-year-old who had never smoked. In other words, he had added 23 years of hard use to his precious lungs, rendering them no more powerful than an average 75-year-old. It's a distressing bit of news.
The distress is exactly the idea. Dr. Parkes wanted to know if telling smokers their relative lung age would encourage them to quite smoking. It did. After one year, those told their lung age were twice as likely to have quit as those who were simply encouraged to quit: 13.4% versus 6.4%.
What's the bottom line? 13.4% is better than 6.4%, but there are still way too many smokers. Any intervention, including this simple assessment of lung age, which can help smokers quit is extremely valuable. Why? Because there's a lifetime of good living waiting - if you're healthy enough to grab hold of it.
So, come on. Give those achy lungs a break. Take a walk, get some fresh air. You may be surprised at just how enjoyable life post-cigarettes can be.To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read the entire study, see this from the British Medical Journal. For young smokers, see this previous blog post, which reports damaged arteries quickly return to normal when you quit smoking.