PET studies reveal that young smokers can reverse impact of habit

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Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging has helped researchers determine that if young smokers quit, and quit for good, the impact of the habit can be reversed, according to a new study in the December Journal of Nuclear Medicine. “I believe this is the first PET study that shows abnormal coronary function is reversible after only one month of smoking cessation,” said Nagara Tamaki, a professor and chair of the nuclear medicine department at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan. “Smoking cessation normalized abnormal coronary artery function, thus supporting its value in preventing heart disease in young adults. In addition, this is an important report with PET imaging that shows abnormal coronary artery function can be measured by coronary blood flow and flow response to cold stimulation (also called 15O-water PET) in healthy young smokers,” said Tamaki.

Researchers from the Japanese university also noted that improvement was “preserved” six months after the study’s subjects stopped smoking.

In the Hokkaido University study, researchers examined the effects of smoking cessation on coronary endothelial dysfunction in 15 young male adults. The young smokers, who smoked an average of 20 cigarettes a day, agreed to stop for at least six months. Myocardial (heart) blood flow was measured both at rest and during stimulation induced by a cold pressor test by using PET with the oxygen tracer called 15O-water.