Quitting smoking raises whole blood glutathione.
Cigarette smoke contains numerous oxygen free radicals that may be important in smoking-related disease pathogenesis. These free radicals may overwhelm antioxidant defenses and produce a condition of oxidative stress that can result in damage to DNA and other cellular components. This study investigated whether or not indications of harmful oxidative stress decline following smoking cessation. Changes in whole blood glutathione (GSH), an index of oxidative stress level, were determined for 30 cigarette smokers who participated in an experimental smoking-cessation program. Measurements were taken during ad lib smoking and 3 weeks after smoking cessation. In 22 individuals who were continuously abstinent for 3 weeks, GSH levels rose significantly following smoking cessation, from 5.0 to 6.1 mumol/g Hb (p < 0.001). Individuals with the lowest GSH levels during ad lib smoking showed the greatest increases following cessation. Results suggest that oxidative stress and free-radical damage diminish soon after smoking cessation. Thus, some significant health benefits may appear rapidly when people quit smoking.
Lane, JD; Opara, EC; Rose, JE; Behm, F
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