Washington, Mar 7 : If smokers are told their lung age, it may considerably perk up their chances to quit smoking, says a new study.
Lung age is the age of the average healthy person with similar lung function to the individual who smokes and it was conceptualised in order to aid in patients' understanding of complex lung data and to show how smoking prematurely ages the lungs.
Though this concept has not given any proof of increasing quit rates, the researchers decided to test if telling smokers their lung age would result in successful smoking cessation, in particular those with most damage, reports The British Medical Journal (BMJ).
The study recruited 561 current smokers over 35 years of age and was conducted in five general practices in Hertfordshire. The researchers collected information such as age, smoking history, and medical conditions. They used a spirometer, which records the volume and rate at which a patient exhales air from the lungs, to perform a lung function test on all the participants and later split them into 2 random groups.
In the intervention group, the subjects were provided detailed information about their spirometry results and lung age, with the help of a diagram of how smoking ages the lungs telling them that quitting would decrease the rate of deterioration. The control group were given a raw figure for forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) without any further explanation.
The researchers told both the groups that their lung function would be measured again after 12 months to see a change, if any. Besides they were also encouraged to quit and offered recommendation to local NHS smoking cessation services.
After 12 months, it was confirmed through breath and saliva tests that 13.6pct of patients in the intervention group and 6.4pct of patients in the control group had successfully quit, implying that patients in the intervention group were almost twice more likely to have stopped smoking than those in the control group.
But, those having worse spirometric lung age results were no more likely to have quit than the people with normal lung age in either the intervention or the control group.
The authors explained that it is indicated by this unexpected finding that the knowledge of ones lung age aids a smoker to quit whatever may be the result and further research will be required for investigating the psychological reasons behind this. They also suggested that smoking cessation rates can be improved by spirometry and lung age estimation in primary care.
The findings of this study are published on bmj.com.