9 doctors weighed in:

If you damage your lungs by smoking, will it always stay damaged even if you quit?

9 doctors weighed in
Dr. Bernard Bernhardt
Internal Medicine - Hematology & Oncology
2 doctors agree

In brief: Yes

I have seen patients with lung cancer more than 15 or 20 years after they have stopped smoking.
If you stop smoking your lungs will not get worse from cigarettes. If you have not yet crossed the threshold, you may have prevented a cancer from developing.

In brief: Yes

I have seen patients with lung cancer more than 15 or 20 years after they have stopped smoking.
If you stop smoking your lungs will not get worse from cigarettes. If you have not yet crossed the threshold, you may have prevented a cancer from developing.
Dr. Bernard Bernhardt
Dr. Bernard Bernhardt
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Dr. Chakshu Gupta
Pathology
2 doctors agree

In brief: Controversial

The lining cells of the airways regenerate and function better after cessation of smoking.
Approximately 10-15 years after you quit smoking your risk of lung cancer will reduce to those of a non-smoker. But some changes such as emphysema cannot usually be reversed. It is best to never start smoking!

In brief: Controversial

The lining cells of the airways regenerate and function better after cessation of smoking.
Approximately 10-15 years after you quit smoking your risk of lung cancer will reduce to those of a non-smoker. But some changes such as emphysema cannot usually be reversed. It is best to never start smoking!
Dr. Chakshu Gupta
Dr. Chakshu Gupta
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Dr. Shabbir Hossain
Internal Medicine
1 doctor agrees

In brief: Emphysema

Emphysema from smoking is permanent lung damage.
It is not reversible.

In brief: Emphysema

Emphysema from smoking is permanent lung damage.
It is not reversible.
Dr. Shabbir Hossain
Dr. Shabbir Hossain
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1 comment
Dr. Eric Toloza
But quitting smoking may slow down how quickly the emphysema worsens.
Dr. David Cooke
Surgery - Thoracic
1 doctor agrees

In brief: Yes and No

Smoking does permanently damage your lungs.
If you have smoked > 100 cigarettes in your lifetime, your risk of cancer goes up. However, if you quit smoking, emphysema worsens at a slower rate, and your risk of lung cancer goes down (though not to normal).

In brief: Yes and No

Smoking does permanently damage your lungs.
If you have smoked > 100 cigarettes in your lifetime, your risk of cancer goes up. However, if you quit smoking, emphysema worsens at a slower rate, and your risk of lung cancer goes down (though not to normal).
Dr. David Cooke
Dr. David Cooke
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Dr. Sue Ferranti
Internal Medicine

In brief: Depends...

If you quit early enough in the damage, your lungs can heal to a certain degree but will never completely normalize.
However, the closer to normal they can become, the less symptoms you will have and the more likely you are to avoid COPD or certain cancers, like lung cancer.

In brief: Depends...

If you quit early enough in the damage, your lungs can heal to a certain degree but will never completely normalize.
However, the closer to normal they can become, the less symptoms you will have and the more likely you are to avoid COPD or certain cancers, like lung cancer.
Dr. Sue Ferranti
Dr. Sue Ferranti
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Dr. Aaron Milstone
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